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 nation DR Congo, will compete for the coveted prize as they seek to dislodge champions South Africa as trophy holders.
Below is the third in a series of team profiles that provides a brief synopsis of the competing teams, this week including guests the DR Congo and Malawi.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO UNDER-20 PROFILE
Coach: Otis Ngoma Konde
Best finish: –
Last five finishes: –
The Democratic Republic of Congo will bring some Central African flair to the 2016 COSAFA Under-20 Championships, having been handed an entry as a guest nation this year.
It follows the appearance of the senior national side in the 2016 COSAFA Castle Cup that was played in Namibia in June.
DR Congo football is going through a resurgence with their senior side now regular qualifiers for the African Nations Cup finals and seeking a return to the World Cup finals in Russia in 2018.
They have a number of top names playing in the big leagues of Europe and have also enjoyed great success with their club sides, especially TP Mazembe who followed their victory in the African Champions League last year with success in the African Confederation Cup in 2016.
The DR Congo Under-20 side did not compete in the African Youth Championship qualifiers, meaning this is a first chance for some competitive football in a while.
They will be led by coach Otis Ngoma Konde, who has experience in the DR Congo domestic league.
They have been drawn in the three-team Group D at this year’s event, along with Mozambique and Comoros Islands.
MALAWI UNDER-20 PROFILE
Coach: Gerald Phiri
Best finish: Runners-up (2003)
Last five finishes:
2004 – First Round
2005 – First Round
2006 – Semifinals
2007 – First Round
2011 – Semifinals
Malawi have been in and out of the COSAFA Under-20 Championships in recent years with their last appearance in the 2011 tournament where they reached the semifinals and eventually finished fourth.
They did not return for the tournament in Lesotho three years ago, but make a welcome showing in South Africa in 2016 as one of the fancied sides.
The country have yet to win the regional showpiece competition, but did reach the final in 2003 when they lost out to Zambia in the decider.
They also had a semifinal appearance in 2006, and will be hoping to claim a first ever regional title this year.
The side will be led by experienced coach Gerald Phiri, who has been looking far and wide for talent in the country after a number of recent trials.
They have been drawn in the three-team Group B along with Zimbabwe and Zambia.