COSAFA Under-20 Championships – Quick group-by-group view

The 2018 MOPANI Copper Mines COSAFA Under-20 Championships will be staged in Kitwe, Zambia from December 2-14 and provide teams from the region with an excellent opportunity to test their new generation of young stars.

It is a competition that has seem some excellent football played over the last few years and this year there is an exciting line-up of teams ready to take part.
Here is a quick guide to each of the three groups:

Hosts Zambia will be favourites to finish top of the pool given their record in this competition, but face something of the unknown in the Central African guest nation Democratic Republic of Congo in their first game on December 2.

That fixture may well set the tone for the pool, though there are two other strong contenders in Malawi and Mozambique.

The trio of COSAFA sides will know each other well from previous installments of this competition and the Under-17 regional championships, but just what DR Congo will bring to the table will be less easy to judge.

That will make preparation for the coaches a challenge, and the ability to adapt during matches vitally important.
It is a tough pool to call with four very strong teams.

Holders South Africa headline this pool and will be looking for a strong start when they take on Mauritius on December 3 at the Nkana Stadium.

But the islanders are a side who have hurt them in continental competition before, including at the 2017 Under-17 Championships when they won a semifinal 2-0.

It is expected that many players from both squads will have been elevated to the Under-20s for this competition, giving South Africa a chance for revenge of sorts.

eSwatini and Namibia are the other two teams in the pool and they too have produced some fine results in COSAFA competitions down the years.

The pivotal action in the pool could come when South Africa have two games in three days as they played Namibia (Dec. 6) and then eSwatini (Dec. 8). It will be a test of both their skill and stamina.

Zimbabwe have not enjoyed success in the last two editions of the COSAFA Under-20 Championships, winning only one of their five matches and bowing out in the first round on both occasions.

It is a poor return for a nation that are six-time champions of this event and hold a proud record in COSAFA tournaments, and they will be hoping for much better this time round.

They open their campaign against Botswana on December 3, a team that have similarly struggled, before a game against Lesotho two days later and then a final meeting with Angola on December 9.

The Angolans always come full of promise and they will provide a stern test. That final game could prove a straight shoot-out for the semi-finals.