What are the regulations for the 2021 COSAFA Women’s Championship?

The 2021 COSAFA Women’s Championship gets under way in Nelson Mandela Bay on Tuesday where 12 teams will vie for the coveted title in the annual regional showpiece competition. Here is a breakdown of the format and tournament regulations.

The 12 teams have been split into three groups each containing four teams. They play each other in a round-robin format earning three points for a win and one for a draw.
Only the top team in each pool and the best-placed runner-up advance to the semifinals.
The semifinal line-up is provisionally the winner of Group A to play the best-placed runner-up, and the winners of Groups B and C to clash.
However, if the best runner-up is also from Group A, organisers can change the line-up to ensure the two teams don’t meet twice in quick succession.
There will be a third-place play-off for the losing semifinalists this season, with this game having dropped off the fixture list in 2020.
Each competing team is guaranteed a minimum of three games, going up to a maximum of five if they reach the semifinals.


Group standings are decided in the first instance by the number of points a team has obtained to that point.
If two or more teams are level on points, then the first tie-breaker is number of points obtained in matches between them, ie the head-to-head rule.
After that it is down to the goal difference in the matches between the teams concerned and then greatest number of goals scored in the matches between the teams.
If the teams still cannot be separated, then the following are applied in this order until there is a clear front-runner.

  • The goals difference in all group matches
  • The highest number of goals scored in all group matches
  • A drawing of lots conducted by the Organising Committee.


The best-placed runner-up will be chosen from the three groups based on the following criteria, starting with the most points they have managed in their pool play.
If there is no clear winner, then the following is applied until one team has the edge over the other two:

  • Goal-difference in their pool play
  • Number of goals scored in their pool play
  • Fair Play criteria, ie the number of yellow or red cards they have accumulated in their three pool matches. Obviously the team with the least is the placed above the rest.

Only the final will have extra-time, if teams are level after 90 minutes in the semifinals and third-place play-off, the contest will go straight to post-match penalties to determine a winner.


If a player collects two yellow cards in the tournament, they are automatically suspended for the next game, however, a player goes back to ‘zero’ at the end of the pool phase unless their second caution comes in the final group game.
Any suspension received by a player in the pool phase does carry over to the knockout phase.
If a player received two red cards at any time of the tournament they will be suspended for the remaining matches of the competition.