First round match-ups make for intriguing COSAFA Cup in Durban

The draw for the 2022 Hollywoodbets COSAFA Cup in Durban has been concluded and we now know the two first round groups for the July 5-17 competition, where teams will battle it out for a place in the quarterfinals.

There are plenty of interesting match-ups that are rich in history in the COSAFA Cup as the competition celebrates a quarter of a century this year, and there will no doubt be more fascinating tales written into the history of the tournament.

Here is an in-depth look at the head-to-head records in the two pools, where only the top side in each advances to the knockout stages.

GROUP A – Angola, Comoros, Seychelles, Botswana
Angola have never beaten any of these sides in the COSAFA Cup, though that is a skewed statistic as they have only played Botswana before!

Palancas Negras, who make a return to the competition for the first time since 2018, have yet to meet Seychelles or Comoros, but they do have three previous clashes with Botswana and have found the going tough.

Those have resulted in two draws, in the quarterfinals in 2004 when Angola advanced via spot-kicks and went on to lift the trophy, winning their third title, and in the pool stages in 2007.

They also clashed when Angola last played in 2018 as Botswana ran out 2-1 winners.

Botswana have one previous meeting with Comoros as the teams drew 0-0 in the pool stages in 2009, while their only meeting with Seychelles was also that year as The Zebras won 2-0.

Comoros and Seychelles have two previous meetings, the first a 2-1 win for the former in 2009 and then a 1-1 draw in 2018.

GROUP B – Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Eswatini
Lesotho have been regular foes for all these three teams down the years and have met Eswatini the most times – four – with two of those in the last four years.

It wasn’t until 2013 that they had their first clash as Lesotho won 2-0 in the pool stages, before Eswatini claimed victory by the same scoreline two years later.

The teams clashed in the quarterfinals in 2018 and it was Lesotho who came out on top, but once again it was roles reversed in Gqeberha last year as Eswatini won 3-1 to leave the head-to-head at 2-2.

Lesotho lost their first two clashes with Malawi in 2005 (1-2) and 2008 (0-1) but came out on top the last time they met in 2016 (1-0).

They have won both their clashes with Mauritius though, including a 3-0 success in 2016 that remains Lesotho’s biggest ever victory in the COSAFA Cup. The other was a 1-0 win in 2009.

Amazingly, Malawi and Eswatini have only clashed once in all their years of competing in the COSAFA Cup, which was a 1-0 win for the latter in 2007. The Flames and Mauritius have met on three occasions, and it is honours even with a win each and a draw.

All of those meetings happened between 2016 and 2018, with 1-0 wins each and a 0-0 stalemate.

Mauritius and Eswatini have played three times before and all have ended in draws. Those games were in 2007 (0-0), 2008 (1-1) and 2019 (2-2), the last time the competition was hosted in Durban.