Eight star names from previous COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championships

The COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship has seen a number of the region’s top stars pass through the competition over the years, providing the platform for an introduction to international football at an early age.

Some have gone on to have stellar careers, while others have faded into obscurity, unable to turn their talent into a professional career.

Here are eight players who have gone on to shine after appearing in the tournament, including some more recent stars.

Buckley appeared in the inaugural 1994 COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship and would go on to win 73 caps for Bafana Bafana in a superb career that included an appearance at the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
He also played extensively in the German Bundesliga, including for Borussia Dortmund, as well as in Cyprus and back home at Maritzburg United. He is now assistant coach at the latter.

Gutu was seen as a young prodigy and went on to play in Sweden, for a number of years, though he was without a club for some while after leaving Varnamo in August last year.
He has recently re-joined Dynamos in his homeland, where the 27-year-old will hope to reignite his career.
He played at the 2007 COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship and was a star for Zimbabwe in the tournament.

Another of South Africa’s flamboyant playmakers, Lekoelea went by the name of Steve Motsiri when he turned out for the country in the 1994 COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship.
He would spend a decade with top local club Orlando Pirates, where he was revered for his midfield skill, having begun his career with Moroka Swallows.
He was 15 years, 257 days old when he debuted for Swallows, and became the league’s youngest scorer, aged 16 years, 7 days. Both records have since been beaten.

Lungi was a star of the Zambia junior set-up and would go on to have an influential senior international career that included lifting the Africa Cup of Nations title in 2012.
That came five years after he was a star for Zambia at the 2007 COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship, and he would also spend eight successful seasons with Ural Yekaterinburg in Russia.
He also later joined Alanyaspor in Turkey and was most recently with Nkana FC as he works his way back from injury.

Ng’ambi was until recently still going strong at the age of 34 after finishing as top-scorer in the 2001COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship.
He has just left Black Leopards in the South African Premier Soccer League, but also enjoyed a successful spell with Platinum Stars, where he won the MTN8 and Telkom Knockout.
He has had an excellent career as a goal-scoring midfielder and it is a surprise to many that he was not snapped up by bigger teams over the years.

One of the hottest strikers in Europe, Daka is scoring goals for fun with Red Bull Salzburg in both the Austrian league and the UEFA Champions League.
He seemed destined to move to a top club on the continent, and if he does so will remember fondly his goals at the 2015 COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship, which was played as part of the AUSC Region 5 Games in Bulawayo.

The Zambia star scored five goals in the 2017 COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship and has continued his steady rise since.
He is currently playing in the Israeli league for Maccabi Netanya on loan from Arsenal Tula in Russia, and can now showcase his talent to a wide audience.
Still only 19, he has so much potential and will surely be in one of Europe’s big leagues soon.

A year later came the arrival of Angolan Zito Luvumbo, who has taken the region by storm and signalled his status as one of the best young players to come out of Southern Africa in a while.
He was the star of the 2018 tournament as Angola romped to the title and has since signed with Italian Serie A side Cagliari.
The 18-year-old is set to take the Italian scene by storm.