Region 5 Games Maseru 2020 to boost World Cup hopes

There will be more than just a gold medal on offer when the teams compete in the Girls’ football tournament at the Region 5 Games Maseru 2020, with the competition to provide vital game-time ahead of the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup qualifiers.

The World Cup is scheduled to take place in India from October 11-30, with three places up for grabs for African nations among the 16-team field.

The continent will begin the qualifiers for the tournament in January when the first round is played, with the second round scheduled to be staged in March.

It means that the COSAFA teams competing at the Region 5 Games Maseru 2020 will have an excellent opportunity to fine-tune their preparations and get ready for a shot at making the global showpiece next year.

All the COSAFA teams have received byes to the second round, where Zambia will face Namibia in a Southern African derby that will be tough to call.

Botswana have been drawn against 2020 COSAFA Women’s Championship winners Tanzania in another tough tie, while South Africa must wait to learn their opponents.   They will face the winner of the first-round clash between Equatorial Guinea and Kenya.

All four teams will compete in Lesotho next month, with South Africa and Namibia in Group B along with Mauritius. Botswana and Zambia are in Group A with Zimbabwe and Comoros.

If the teams advance past the second round, they must win ties in two further stages to make the World Cup in India. All ties will be played over two legs.

Botswana, Zambia, and South Africa all also entered the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup.

Botswana edged Zambia in a fascinating first round tie in the last qualifiers as they came back from 5-2 down after the first leg to win 4-0 and advance 6-5 on aggregate.

There were goals galore in the next round against South Africa as well as the latter claimed both ties with 5-2 and 6-4 victories for an 11-6 aggregate result.

South Africa went on to defeat Morocco 6-1 on aggregate in the final stage and book their ticket to the finals in Uruguay, along with fellow African sides Ghana and Cameroon.

It was the second time that the South Africans had competed on the global stage after also qualifying for the 2010 finals, while they are also one of only two teams from the region to compete at the World Cup.

Zambia are the other after they qualified for the 2014 finals Costa Rica, where they exited in the first round, but not before beating their hosts 2-1 in their final pool match.

The Region 5 Games Maseru 2020 promises to provide more international experience for the teams and hopefully boost their chances of qualification.