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 seventh and final set of team profiles that provides a brief synopsis of the competing teams, this time including regional powerhouses Zambia and Zimbabwe.
ZAMBIA U-20 PROFILE
Best finish: Winners (1983, 1986, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2011)
Last five finishes:
2008 – First Round
2009 – Winners
2010 – Winners
2011 – Winners
2013 – First Round
After claiming a hat-trick of COSAFA Under-20 Championship titles between 2009 and 2011, powerhouse Zambia suffered a surprise first round exit in the last tournament held in Lesotho in 2016
They will be desperate to bounce back from that disappointment and given the strength of their junior structures down the years, they will again be considered among the favourites for the title.
Zambia have been comfortably the most successful side in the history of this competition with 10 tournament wins, four more than Zimbabwe in second place on the winners list.
But they will have a major stumbling block in their path having been drawn with the Zimbabweans in the three-team Group B at the tournament in South Africa, with only one side able to advance to the semifinals. Malawi are the third team in the pool.
ZIMBABWE U-20 PROFILE
Best finish: Winners (1985, 1988, 1990, 2001, 2002, 2007)
Last five finishes:
2008 – Semifinals
2009 – Third-place
2010 – Third-place
2011 – First Round
2013 – Semifinals
Zimbabwe will look to regain the COSAFA Under-20 Championship crown they last won in 2007 when they enter this year’s tournament in South Africa as among the leading sides.
The Young Warriors side has been amongst the most successful teams in the history of the competition with six wins in all, that 2007 triumph coming when they beat then hosts South Africa 3-0 to record a comprehensive final win.
Since then they have reached the semifinals in four of the last five tournaments, but only managed a pair of third-place finishes in 2009 and 2010.
Though they will be confident of lifting the trophy in South Africa, they face a major hurdle in the opening round when they tackle the most successful side in the history of the tournament, Zambia, who have 10 previous regional titles.
With only one team to advance to the semifinals, it will be a major battle with Malawi the third team in the pool.
The carrot being dangled in front of the Zimbabwean players are the number of scouts from mostly South African clubs who will be at the tournament to look out for new talent from a country that has a long history of sending quality players to play in the South African league.