Zambia, S Africa drawn together in African U-23 Championship

COSAFA rivals South Africa and Zambia have been drawn with hosts Senegal and Tunisia in the same group for the African U-23 Championship, which will be played in the west African nation towards the end of the year.

Yesterday morning’s draw at the Confederation of African Football headquarters in Cairo handed the under-23 teams a good chance to advance to the final three and progress to next year’s Olympic Games men’s football tournament in Rio de Janeiro.

South Africa will play Senegal in the opening match of the tournament at Dakar’s Leopold Senghor Stadium on November 28.

Amaglugglug will then meet Zambia on December 1 at the same venue and, after that, move to the coastal city of Mbour for their final match against Tunisia on December 4 at the Caroline Faye Stadium.

While Senegal are hosts they will not be fancied because so many of their first choice players are French-based and therefore unlikely not to be allowed by their clubs to participate because the tournament, from November 28-December 12, falls outside of dates allocated by FIFA for international matches.

South Africa, however, can field a virtually full strength side because the Premier Soccer League is halting its programme to allow coach Owen da Gama to take a strong squad to the tournament, with Olympic Games qualification as the key priority.

Algeria, Egypt, Mali and Nigeria are in Group B at the U-23 Championship.

The top three teams at the tournament– the two finalists plus the bronze medal winner — will qualify to represent Africa at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.