The hugely popular COSAFA Women’s Championship returns to Nelson Mandela Bay for the fourth year in a row in 2021 between September 15-26 with the first-round pool stage draw to be held on Thursday at 11h00 (CAT) when the 11 competing sides will learn their fate.
The competition is always a highlight of the COSAFA calendar and has grown hugely in stature in recent years, helping enormously to develop the women’s game in the Southern African region. The draw will be live on COSAFA.TV.
This year’s competition will take on additional significance as it comes just a month before the start of the qualifiers for the 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations that are scheduled to begin in October, providing competing sides with the chance to fine-tune their plans for their bid to reach the continental showpiece.
The 11 nations that will take part this year are hosts and defending champions South Africa, the 2020 runners-up Botswana and the next highest-ranked side from the region, Zambia. They will be the seeds in Groups A, B and C respectively.
The rest of the field is made up of Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Malawi, Mozambique, and the guest nations of Tanzania and South Sudan.
Tanzania return for a second year running having played in 2020, while South Sudan are eager to improve their national team and are now coached by former South Africa performance analyst Shilene Booysen, who was involved in a number of COSAFA Cup wins with Banyana Banyana.
The teams will be drawn into the three groups, two with four sides and one with three, and the top team in each pool, as well as the best-placed runner-up, will advance to the semifinals.
“This will be our second COSAFA Women’s Championship played during the COVID-19 pandemic after the successful staging of the event last November and we once again thank the Eastern Cape Province and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality for their tremendous support,” COSAFA General Secretary Sue Destombes says.
“Without these valued partners we would not be able to stage these events, while we are also grateful once again to our hosts, the South African Football Association, who continue to lend their invaluable expertise.”It is the fourth year in a row the women’s senior tournament will take place in Nelson Mandela Bay, where the support in the stands has traditionally been superb, though that will once again be an element that is missing this year with all matches played behind closed doors.
South Africa have won the last four championships, and seven out of eight in all, with only Zimbabwe breaking their run on home soil in 2011.