South Africa return to COSAFA Under-17 competition

South Africa are back in the Under-17 regional competition after missing 2021 and will hope to regain the title they won two years ago, as well as book a place at the TotalEnergies U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria next year

This year at the competition, which also forms part of the Region 5 Games Lilongwe 2022, they have been drawn against Angola, who they face in the opener on December 2, and Mauritius four days later.

Only the top team in each pool automatically advances to the semifinals along with the best-placed runner-up, with the two finalists booking a ticket to Algeria.

South Africa’s  win in 2020 was their first victory since 2002 but they are the only country to claim the title three times. They have appeared in seven finals in all – also a record.

South Africa lifted the inaugural trophy in 1994 when they beat Mozambique 2-1 in the final with a team that contained the likes of Delron Buckley, Steve Lekoelea and Junaid Hartley. A draw with Zambia in their opening match was followed by wins over Eswatini (1-0) and Malawi (4-0), before they thumped Zimbabwe 5-1 in the semifinals and then delivered that victory over Mozambique to seal gold.

They could not defend their title in 2001 though as they slipped to a 3-0 final loss to hosts Malawi, but they were back on top in a shortened, four-team tournament a year later as they again secured wins over Botswana (2-0), Eswatini (5-4) and Lesotho (4-0) to finish top of the table.

The team breezed through the pool stages in 2007 as they claimed victories over Lesotho (5-0) and Mauritius (3-0), and then edged Malawi 1-0 in the semifinals. But following a 1-1 draw with Zimbabwe in the decider, they lost 4-2 on post-match penalties.

South Africa completed a full haul of nine points in the pool stages in 2016 as wins over Seychelles (1-0), Namibia (4-0) and Mauritius (2-0) quickly established them as tournament favourites.

This was doubly so when they beat East African guest nation Kenya 4-0 in the semifinals, but they were again undone by penalties in the decider.

After a 1-1 draw with Namibia, they lost 3-1 on spot-kicks to take home the silver.

The 2018 tournament saw them reach the final again, but it would see them only claim silver.

Last five tournament finishes:
2017 – Fourth
2018 – Runners-up
2019 – Group Stages
2020 – Winners
2021 – Did not enter