COSAFA Beach Soccer Championship returns to football calendar

The COSAFA Beach Soccer Championship will make a welcome return to the football calendar when it is played in the South African coastal city of Durban from November 17-21.

The inaugural beach championship in the region was held in Seychelles in 2015 and won by Madagascar, who would go on days later to have tremendous success on the continental stage.

The next CAF Beach Soccer Cup of Nations is scheduled for Mozambique in 2022, which will in turn likely serve as the qualifiers for the 2023 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.

Seven nations have thrown their hat in the ring for the return of the regional COSAFA competition in Durban, namely hosts South Africa, Angola, Comoros, Madagascar, Mozambique, Seychelles and East African guest country Tanzania.

The teams will be split into two pools at the group stage draw that will take place on Saturday. Group A will contain four sides and Group B will have three. The top two teams in each pool will advance to the semifinals.

“We are delighted to have Beach Soccer back on our calendar and intend making this an annual event in the future,” says COSAFA General Secretary Sue

Destombes. “It is another sphere of football that is growing fast, as we saw at the recent 2021 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Russia.

“Senegal and our own Mozambique flew the flag for Africa in that competition and we know that there is extraordinary talent in the COSAFA region waiting to be given the platform to shine.

“We thank our valued partners, the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government and City of eThekwini, for assisting us with the staging of this event after a six-year gap from the inaugural competition in Seychelles. Without their support this would not be possible.”

COSAFA signed a three-year partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government and the City of eThekwini to host several of our tournaments in Durban, including the flagship COSAFA Cup.

The agreement runs from August 2021 to December 2023, and provides the COSAFA Cup, COSAFA Women’s Champions League and COSAFA Beach Soccer competition with certainty over the hosting of the trio of annual events in what are the most uncertain of times.

The three tournaments will be staged in the coastal city each year over that period, making use of the world-class football facilities on offer and the excellent all-round infrastructure in travel, transport, and communications.

Madagascar won the only COSAFA Beach Soccer Championship to be played to date when they beat Malawi 9-4 in the final in 2015.

The Malagasy were the overwhelming favourites to lift the first ever COSAFA tournament and they did not disappoint.

The United Arab Emirates club Al-Ahli, who were guests in the competition, finished third to claim the bronze medal with a comfortable 7-3 triumph over Mauritius. Seychelles defeated South Africa 1-0 to finish in fifth position.

The tournament serves as a dress rehearsal for hosts Seychelles, who days later staged the 2015 CAF Beach Soccer Cup of Nations.

Madagascar were in form after their COSAFA exploits and claimed the African title too, beating fancied Senegal on penalties in the decider.

That qualified them for the World Cup in Portugal that same year, but they did not make it out of their group.