Quick guide to the 2021 COSAFA Cup teams

There is a fantastic field for the historic 20th edition of the COSAFA Cup that will be staged in Nelson Mandela Bay from July 7-18.

The giants of the region are all there, along with guest nation Senegal, who will bring a contrasting style and flavour to the competition.

It promises to be the best tournament yet and brings together some of Southern Africa’s, and the continent’s best talent.

Here is a quick guide to the 12 competing sides.


P          W        D         L         GF       GA
44        10        16        18        40        50
Botswana have been finalists twice in the last four editions, but have yet to lift the trophy they covet so much. They went down 3-2 to South Africa’s Olympics-bound squad in 2016, and lost to the same opposition in the Plate final in 2018. They reached the final of the Cup competition again in 2019, but this time were edged by Zambia in the decider. The Zebras have reached the semifinals three times in the previous five editions.


P          W        D         L         GF       GA
13        2          3        8          8          20
Comoros Islands return for a third successive COSAFA Cup and for what will be only their fifth tournament over all. Before 2019, lone previous victory came against the Seychelles a decade earlier. But the side is vastly improved, as they have shown in recent continental qualifiers, where they have made the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon early next year. In their last COSAFA Cup showing in 2019 they reached the quarterfinals for the first time too before losing to Zimbabwe.


P          W        D         L         GF       GA
43        14        12        17        42        54
Eswatini had a thrilling run in the 2016 COSAFA Cup when they claimed the bronze medal and have always been a difficult opponent at the tournament. They have reached the semifinals on four occasions, proving their potential for upset results, but have yet to make that major leap into a final. They will be looking for their first win since 2016 this year, with the six games since then resulting in two draws and four defeats.


P          W        D         L         GF       GA
46        11        15        20        43        58
Lesotho have made the semifinals in the last three years, but were ousted in a thrilling 4-3 defeat to eventual champions Zimbabwe in 2017, lost on penalties to the same opposition the following year after a 0-0 draw, and then were beaten 2-1 by Botswana in 2019. They did manage in the bronze medal in 2018. Lesotho were also runners-up in the southern African championship in 2000 proving the potential of the mountain kingdom despite is small population size, and have always been a difficult opponent. That is their only final appearance.


P          W        D         L         GF       GA
34        14        8          12        38        34
Madagascar debuted in the COSAFA Cup in 2002 and have had some notable results down the years, which includes knocking hosts South Africa out of the competition on penalties in 2018, which was also their last appearance after they skipped the following year. They finished fourth that year, to match their result in 2008, but their best performance was in 2015 when they picked up the bronze medal.


P          W        D         L         GF       GA
52        15        16        21        51        61
Malawi were one of the most impressive sides on show in 2019, though they would ultimately lose on penalties to South Africa in the Plate final. There thrilling six-game run made them perhaps the most entertaining side as they begin to tap into their rich potential and recently celebrated qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations next year. The Flames have been runners-up in two COSAFA Cup competitions, reaching the final for the first time in 2002 and then making the decider again the following year. They have not reached the semifinals of the Cup competition since 2003.


P          W        D         L         GF       GA
45        15        10        20        47        61
Mozambique narrowly missed out on the quarterfinals in 2017 after two wins from their three pool games, ultimately undone by a defeat to Madagascar in the group stages. It was the closest they have come for some time to the knockout stages. The Mambas were semifinalists in the 2004 and 2008 COSAFA Cup tournaments, and then went one better in 2015 when they lost 2-0 in the final to Namibia. They also picked up the bronze medal in 1997 and 2009.


P          W        D         L         GF       GA
52        19        17        16        69        57
Namibia were COSAFA Cup winners in 2015, won the Plate competition in 2016 and reached the final of the Plate again in 2017 before losing to South Africa. Their trilling run to the major trophy six years ago was a huge personal triumph for then coach Ricardo Mannetti, and put their football in the map. They also made the final in 1999, but narrowly lost to Angola in extra-time in the second leg in Windhoek. They were unlucky to go out in the first round in 2019 despite winning two of their three pool matches.


P          W        D         L         GF       GA
0          0          0          0          0          0
West African guest nation Senegal will make a first appearance in the COSAFA Cup and bring with them the flair and power from that region of the continent. They are the top-ranked side in Africa and currently sit at number 22 in the world, and have many great players at some of the biggest clubs in Europe. Just what the make-up of their squad is remains to be seen, but whoever does come for them it is sure to be a selection packed with talent and perhaps a few stars destined for huge things in the future.


P          W        D         L         GF       GA
47        24        16      7          64        28
Four-time winners South Africa last tasted COSAFA Cup success in 2016, but have disappointed in recent tournaments, going out at the quarterfinal stage in four of the last five. They have won the Plate competition for the last three tournaments (2017-19). South Africa are one of only two COSAFA member countries to have won the Africa Cup of Nations title, doing so on home soil at their first attempt in 1996. Zambia joined them with their 2012 success.


P          W        D         L         GF       GA
57        29        20      9          82        41
Defending champions Zambia are five-time winners of the COSAFA Cup but have been to a record 11 finals in all, including the last three competitions when they were beaten 3-1 and 4-2 by Zimbabwe, before edging Botswana 1-0 in 2019. Before that, their previous title was in 2013 on home soil and they remain a real power of the region. Zambia won both of the first two editions of the COSAFA Cup in 1997 and 1998, but it took until 2006 for them to claim their third regional title.


P          W        D         L         GF       GA
60        38        15      7          107      44
Zimbabwe are the most successful nation in the history of the COSAFA Cup, winning their sixth title in 2018. They have played the most matches, managed the most wins and scored the most goals to cement their place on the top of the pile. They are currently on a 15-game unbeaten run in the competition (not including penalty shoot-outs) that dates back to 2015. They have suffered disappointment too though with three runners-up finishes.