Mozambique are still searching for their first-ever COSAFA Men’s Under-20 Championships title having been beaten finalists in 2008, but have battled to get out of the pool stages in recent years, something they will hope to change this year in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Mozambique will be entering a team in their first COSAFA event of 2020, having skipped the women’s Senior and Under-17 competitions, and the men’s Under-17 event that is currently on the go.
But at Under-20 level they have real ambition of being among the leading sides and winning a place at the 2021 Africa Under-20 Cup of Nations that is slated for Mauritania next year.
In order to do that they will need to reach the final of the COSAFA event, something they have noted managed in 12 years.
In fact, in the eight tournaments they have played since that 2008 appearance in the decider, they have gone out in the group stages in every one.
They will help to kick-off this year’s instalment, which will run from December 3-13, when they play in the opening match against Lesotho in Group A. That is followed by a clash with Zimbabwe on December 6, before they round out their pool play against hosts South Africa on December 8.
It would be some sort of revenge if they were to knock the latter out of the competition as they lost to then hosts South Africa in their only final appearance.
Only the top team in each pool and the best placed runner-up advance to the semifinals.
Mozambique also and did narrowly miss the semis in Botswana in 2011, the hosts just pipping them on goal-difference in a three-team pool that also included Eswatini.
And in 2016 they finished their three-team pool with two draws and so lost out to Central African guest nation DR Congo for a place in the knockout stages.
In 2017 they returned home early with a single win and two defeats, though they were in a tough pool with eventual champions South Africa and North African guest nation Egypt.
They were unbeaten in 2018 with a victory over DR Congo, and draws with Malawi and Zambia, but there five points were not enough to put them into the next round.
They managed a single win over Seychelles (3-2) in 2019, to go with losses to Eswatini (2-0) and Angola (1-0).
Mozambique may well feel that with their pool of talent back home, which has always been substantial, they should have won the competition by now – or at least advanced past the pool stages on more occasions.
They reached the quarterfinals of the African Under-20 Cup of Nations in 1989 but have not played in the competition proper since.
MOZAMBIQUE FINISHES IN LAST 21 YEARS
1999 – Group stages
2000 – Quarterfinals
2001 – Quarterfinals
2002 – Quarterfinals
2003 – Group stages
2004 – Group stages
2005 – Group stages
2006 – Group stages
2007 – Group stages
2008 – Runners-up
2009 – Group stages
2010 – Group stages
2011 – Group stages
2013 – Group stages
2016 – Group stages
2017 – Group stages
2018 – Group stages
2019 – Group stages