Hosts Zambia, defending champions South Africa and last years’ runners-up Lesotho have been named as the three seeded sides for Wednesday’s pool stage draw for the 2018 MOPANI Copper Mines COSAFA Under-20 Championships to be staged in Kitwe, Zambia from December 2-14.
The draw will be held at 09h30 (07h30 GMT) in Kitwe and will be covered live on COSAFA platforms.
The three seeded sides will head the pools, with Zambia claiming position A1 in Group A, South Africa to take B1 in Group B and Lesotho penned in for C21 in Group C.
The remaining nine sides will be placed in two pots based on their ranking according to performance at the 2017 COSAFA Under-20 Championships that were also held in Kitwe.
Malawi, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Swaziland will be placed in Pot 1, with Mozambique, Mauritius, Angola, Botswana and newcomers Reunion in Pot 2.
Three teams will be draw from Pot 1 to fill up the second positions in Groups A-C, before another three nations are drawn from Pot 2 to fill up the third positions in those pools.
The remaining three balls (one of from Pot 2 and two from Pot 2) are then placed together in a single pot, with the teams to take up the fourth and final positions in each group then drawn.
That will leave each group with four nations, while only the top team in each pool and the best-placed runner-up will advance to the semi-finals.
The winner of Group B will take on the best-placed runner-up in the semi-finals, while the top two sides in Groups A and C will face-off in the knockout stage.
The format is the same as last year, when East African guest nation Uganda topped Group A. South Africa won Group B and Lesotho were the surprise package in Group C. North African guest nation Egypt advanced from Group B as the best-placed runner-up with six points, which incidentally would have been enough to top both Groups A and C.
2018 MOPANI Copper Mines COSAFA Under-20 Championships draw:
Group A –Zambia (Host country)
Group B –South Africa (Winners in 2017)
Group C –Lesotho (Runners-up in 2017)
Malawi, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Swaziland
Mozambique, Mauritius, Angola, Reunion, Botswana