COSAFA is set for another busy year on and off the pitch with seven tournaments planned, including an exciting new addition to the regional football calendar which showcases the development initiatives of the organisation.
The flagship COSAFA Cup will kick-off a busy six months when it is staged in Durban from July 5-17.
It will follow a few weeks after the completion of the opening round of 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and give regional coaches the chance to further finetune their squads.
The competition returns to Durban for the first time since 2019, having been staged in Nelson Mandela Bay last year.
The second installment of the TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Champions League | COSAFA Qualifiers will also be held in the KwaZulu-Natal coastal city from August 4-14.
The inaugural event was an unqualified success in 2021 as South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns took the title and went on to claim the continental crown as well.
That will be followed shortly afterwards by another flagship event in the form of the COSAFA Women’s Championship, which is to be staged from August 31-September 11.
The regional competition has become a hugely popular fixture on the COSAFA calendar and produced much talent for the region, playing an integral part in helping Zambia qualify for the last Olympic Games, and South Africa for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The COSAFA Beach Soccer Championship is also back for a second successive year and will return to Durban’s beautiful coastline. That event will be played from September 17-25.
The COSAFA Men’s Under-20 Championship, which was held over from this past December, is to be staged in Eswatini from October 6-16.
The tournament serves as a qualifier for the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Under-20 Cup of Nations that is scheduled to begin in Egypt in February next year. The top two teams in Eswatini will advance to the continental finals.
The inaugural COSAFA Schools Cup is penciled in to be staged from October 28-November 6, the latest new addition to the calendar which will give young leaners the chance to showcase their talent on an international stage.
The competition is to be the regional qualifier for the CAF Schools Champions Cup that will see teams from all over Africa compete. It is seen as a vital first step into international football for young players.
The COSAFA Under-17 Boys’ and Girls’ Championships will close out the year and are scheduled to run concurrently from November 30-December 10.
The Boys’ event will be a qualifier for the 2023 TotalEnergies CAF Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations that is scheduled to be played in Algeria next year.
“This is another bumper year of tournaments, which includes not only our flagship men’s and women’s senior championships, but also four competitions that serve as qualifiers for continental events,” COSAFA General Secretary Sue Destombes says.
“We are delighted to have such a strong calendar in front of us and look forward to supplying players, coaches, match officials and administrators with incredible exposure to international competition.
“While COVID-19 is still very much a part of our daily lives, we have learnt a lot about how to manage tournaments within the pandemic and hope to welcome fans back in the stadiums for most of our events this year.”