Eswatini will hope to build on a fourth-place finish at the 2019 COSAFA Men’s Uner-17 Championships when they compete in the Boys’ football tournament at the Region 5 Games Maseru 2020 later this month.
The side fell foul of eligibility regulations last year and dropped out of the 2020 COSAFA even, but are back to contest the regional crown this year and to show the progress they have made.
They will feature in the opening game of the tournament when they take on Zimbabwe in a Group A encounter on Nov. 30, before a clash with Madagascar two days later. They finish their pool play against Lesotho on Dec. 5.
Eswatini featured in the very first COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship in 1994, but did not make it past the group stages despite a handy showing that included a win and two draws in their four matches.
They did make the semifinals in 2001, but lost 2-0 to South Africa and then went down by the same scoreline in the bronze-medal match to Zambia.
Eswatini were back the next year, gaining draws with Botswana (1-1) and Lesotho (0-0), but ended second in the four-team mini-tournament after an epic 5-4 loss to eventual winners South Africa.
They finished bottom of their pool in 2007, despite a win over Namibia (3-1), and did not take part in the next event in 2016 that came after a long lay-off for the tournament.
They missed 2017 too, but returned for the 2018 edition, claiming a pool stage win over Zimbabwe (3-2), but losses to Angola (0-4) and Malawi (0-1) saw them exit the competition early.
They managed four points in 2019, enough to get into the knockout stages after a heavy loss to eventual champions Zambia (6-0) was followed by a 2-1 win over Malawi and a 1-1 draw with South Africa.
They narrowly lost 1-0 to Mozambique in the semifinals but were then thumped 5-0 by Angola in the bronze-medal match.
The team had been due to take part in 2020 but it turned out had a number of players who were deemed not eligible, and so exited the competition.
Last five tournament finishes:
2016 – Did not enter
2017 – Did not enter
2018 – Group Stages
2019 – Fourth
2020 – Disqualified