Mauritius return with continental qualification on their minds

Mauritius make a welcome return at this level having missed the last three COSAFA Under-17 Championship finals due to, in part, the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before that they were certainly competitive, making the semifinals two years in a row and finishing runners-up in 2017.
That will give them hope that their next generation of stars can achieve the same feat at qualify for the TotalEnergies U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria next year.

They have a tough first round group, having been drawn alongside Angola and South Africa, who will be two of the favourites for the title.

Mauritius hosted the finals between 2016 and 2018 and used that home ground advantage well. They reached the final in 2017, holding eventual champions Zambia for much of the decider before being stung by late goals that saw them lose 3-0, a scoreline that did not reflect the competitive nature of the game.

Wins over Zimbabwe (1-0) and Botswana (2-1) set the Mauritians on the path to the semifinals, before they missed out on top-spot in the group with a 2-0 loss to Malawi.

They overcame a powerful South African side 2-0 in the knockout stages though, before going on to collect silver in the final.

It remains the best finish for the side in the regional competition and a sign that football in the country is on the rise. They were among the top teams again the following year, despite a 1-0 loss to Botswana in their opener. They beat Namibia (1-0) and Seychelles (6-1) to qualify for the semifinals, where they came unstock against South Africa (2-0).

They could not pick up the bronze medal as they slipped to a 2-1 defeat to Namibia.

It was certainly still a better showing than in 2016 when they exited in the first round after defeats to eventual winners Namibia (1-3) and South Africa (0-2), to go with a win over Seychelles (1-0).

They did not compete in 2019, and the COVID-19 pandemic made participation in the last two years extremely difficult.

Mauritius have never reached the finals of the TotalEnergies U-17 Africa Cup of Nations, which will be a real target for the team in 2023.

Last five tournament finishes:
2017 – Runners-Up
2018 – Fourth
2019 – Did not enter
2020 – Did not enter
2021 – Did not enter