Draw looms for COSAFA Men’s Under-17 and Under-20 zonal qualifiers

The respective draws for the COSAFA Men’s Under-17 and Under-20 Championships to be played later this year will take place on Monday, November 2 as the competing teams learn their fate in what are zonal qualifiers for the continental finals.

The draws will start at 10h00 and will be streamed live on COSAFA.TV, with the Under-17 competition to run from November 19-30 and the Under-20s from December 3-13.

Both tournaments will be played in South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Bay, which is also set to play host to the COSAFA Senior Women’s and Under-17 Women’s Championships next month in what is a bumper period for football in the region.

Nine teams have confirmed their participation in the Under-17 Men’s competition, namely Angola, Botswana, Comoros Islands, Eswatini, Malawi, last year’s runners-up Mozambique, South Africa, defending champions Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The tournament is a zonal qualifier for the 2021 Africa Under-17 Cup of Nations that is scheduled to be played in Morocco during July next year.

With the continental finals competition having been expanded to 12 teams, it means the two finalists in the COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship will earn their place in the field.

Angola sealed their berth in the last Cup of Nations in 2019 after winning the COSAFA title in Mauritius, and ended the competition in third place, which was enough to qualify them for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup that was staged in Brazil last year.

That will also be the end-goal for the COSAFA sides that start their journey in Nelson Mandela Bay, who will have an eye on the global finals that are slated for Peru some time in 2021.

It will be a similar story for the teams at the COSAFA Men’s Under-20 Championships, with 11 sides to take part in the competition – Angola, Botswana, Comoros Islands, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, last year’s runners-up South Africa, defending champions Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The two finalists will also book their place in the African Under-20 Cup of Nations that is scheduled for Mauritania in February-March 2021.

That in turn will serve as a qualifier for the 2021 FIFA Under-20 Word Cup that is penciled in for Indonesia from May 20-June 12. The top four sides in the African competition will head to the global finals.

South Africa used that route to qualify for the last two FIFA Under-20 tournaments and will hope to do so again, though now with a new generation of players.

Zambia and South Africa have dominated the regional COSAFA competition in this age-group, between then winning each of the last nine tournaments played dating back to 2008.

South Africa have five titles in that time to Zambia’s four, with the last team to break their stranglehold being Zimbabwe, who lifted the trophy in 2007.
Other sides have come close, with Lesotho, Angola, Namibia, Mozambique and East African guests Kenya all reaching the final in that time.