The draw for the historic 20th edition of the COSAFA Cup that will be staged in Nelson Mandela Bay from July 7-18 has thrown up plenty of intriguing ties as the competition takes on a new format and added significance.
The big news is the appearance of west African giants Senegal, who will be guests at the tournament, and will certainly add some star quality to what is already a strong field.
They have been drawn alongside record six-time winners Zimbabwe in a Group of Death that also includes Mozambique and 2015 COSAFA Cup winners Namibia.
Zimbabwe are planning to use the competition to blood youngsters and give fringe players an opportunity with one eye on the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers that starts in September, and the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon in January next year.
“It is an interesting draw, so let’s see how things go,” Zimbabwe coach Zdravko Logarusic tells The COSAFA Show. “All of us have the same chances, let’s see which type of squad the teams will bring. We will use players which we didn’t see during Afcon qualifications and we are going to give chances to players who are coming up to be future stars. They have chances to prove themselves.
“We have this disadvantage in that we will bring players from the local league, which has stopped again [due to COVID-19], but we will not complain. Let’s see some new faces and see how they perform. Let’s try to make our team strong.”
On this episode we also hear from the technical teams of Zambia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Mozambique and Malawi as they share their thoughts on the draw.
Hosts South Africa also have an intriguing group that includes neighbours Lesotho, Botswana and Eswatini. Bafana Bafana and Botswana have long been foes in this regional competition and contested a number of finals in the Cup and Plate competition.
Defending champions Zambia will face Malawi, as well as the island nations of Madagascar and Comoros in their first round pool.
We also hear from Timothy Shongwe, who is the chairman of the COSAFA Organising Committee about the plans for the competition in Nelson Mandela Bay, as well as two former Bafana Bafana stars in Daine Klate and Elrio van Heerden.
They share their insight on the COSAFA Cup, but also bring us up to speed on what they have been doing in the last few years.