COSAFA U-20 Championships Profiles – South Africa, Swaziland


The 2016 COSAFA Under-20 Championships, sponsored by PPC, will be staged in South Africa’s North West province from December 7-16.

The Southern African region’s top sides, including guest nations DR Congo and Sudan, will compete for the coveted prize as they seek to dislodge champions South Africa as trophy holders.

Below is the sixth in a series of team profiles that provides a brief synopsis of the competing teams, this time including South Africa and Swaziland.


Best finish: Winners (2000, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2013)
Last five finishes:
2008 – Winners
2009 – Finalists
2010 – First Round
2011 – First Round
2013 – Winners

South Africa have traditionally been one of the powerhouses in the region in Under-20 football and come into the 2016 tournament on home soil as defending champions.

Their victory in Lesotho three years ago, when they beat East African guest nation Kenya 2-0 in the final, was the fifth for the country in the competition and followed two successive first round exits.

The man entrusted with leading the side in 2016 is Thabo Senong, who is also assistant coach of the senior national team. Ironically, he is now working under Shakes Mashaba at Bafana Bafana, who led the Under-20s to COSAFA success in 2013.

Senong has been buoyed by the side’s 3-1 victory over Kenya in a warm-up fixture played on November 26 and is using this tournament as build-up to the African Youth Championships in Zambia starting in late February.

South Africa first entered the COSAFA Under-20 Championships in 1993, but had to wait until 2000 to lift the trophy for the first time.

They have been drawn in a tricky Group A in 2016 that also includes Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland.


Best finish: Third place (1986)
Last five finishes:
2008 – First Round
2009 – First Round
2010 – First Round
2011 – First Round
2013 – First Round

Swaziland will be hoping to make a big impression at this year’s COSAFA Under-20 Championships having exited the competition in the first round for the last 10 tournaments.

In fact, they have not won a match at the COSAFA Under-20 Championships since 2004, a record they will be desperate to put right this year.

They were beaten by Botswana (0-2) and Zimbabwe (1-2) in the last installment of the competition in Lesotho in 2013, where they were competitive but did not quite have the quality to collect a win.

And they go into a tough Group A in 2016 as well where they face defending champions and hosts South Africa, Lesotho and Botswana

The best ever showing of the side was a third place finish in 1986, when they defeated Malawi 1-0 in the bronze medal play-off.