Zim­babwe, Zam­bia square off in Cosafa U20

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

THE Zim­babwe Un­der-20 na­tional squad was yes­ter­day drawn against old en­e­mies Zam­bia in Group B of the 2016 Cosafa Un­der-20 Cham­pi­onships to be held in South Africa’s North West prov­ince from De­cem­ber 7-16. The other team in their group is Malawi.

Spon­sored by PPC, the tour­na­ment brings to­gether the best young tal­ent from the Southern African re­gion. Hosts and de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons South Africa will have their work cut out in the de­fence of their ti­tle as they take on neigh­bours Le­sotho, Swazi­land and Botswana in Group A.

With only the top team in each pool ad­vanc­ing to the semi-fi­nals, there will also be an early exit for one of the re­gion’s heavy­weights in Group B. Group C has An­gola, Namibia, Sey­chelles and Mau­ri­tius, while Group D has Mozam­bique, Co­moros Is­lands and East African guest na­tion Rwanda, who will be com­pet­ing in place of Mada­gas­car.

The teams will play each other in a round-robin for­mat, with the top sides from each pool ad­vanc­ing to the semi-fi­nals.

One twist is that the top teams in Groups B and D will play a third game as a cross­over fix­ture be­tween those two pools after the se­cond round of matches to en­sure that most com­pet­ing sides get to play three times.

The top team in Group B will play the se­cond team in Group D and vice-versa. The group matches start on De­cem­ber 7 and will be com­pleted on De­cem­ber 13. The semi-fi­nals will take place a day later, be­fore the re­main­ing teams en­joy a rest day.

The third-place play-off and fi­nal of the com­pe­ti­tion will both be played on De­cem­ber 16, which is a pub­lic hol­i­day in South Africa. Two venues, the Mog­wase Sta­dium and Moru­leng Sta­dium will be used for the tour­na­ment, with the lat­ter being used ex­clu­sively from the semi-fi­nals on­wards. Cosafa are stag­ing the Un­der-20 com­pe­ti­tion for the first time since 2013.

PPC have also come on board as spon­sors of the tour­na­ment for the first time.

“As an African brand with a con­ti­nen­tal foot­print, PPC sees this spon­sor­ship as a key means of con­tribut­ing to Africa’s de­vel­op­ment, specif­i­cally in terms of the teams and com­mu­ni­ties, and greater coun­tries the tour­na­ment touches.

“The spon­sor­ship speaks to our ap­pre­ci­a­tion that to build or cre­ate any­thing of qual­ity takes time, and that ‘qual­ity mat­ters’ in all we do,” said Rob Rein, PPC ex­ec­u­tive: sales and mar­ket­ing. ‘‘In as­sist­ing to pro­vide th­ese up and com­ing teams with the plat­form they need to de­velop their skills and grow in ex­pe­ri­ence, we look for­ward to them to go­ing on to re­alise their fu­ture dreams go­ing for­ward in the same way that other Cosafa leg­ends have been able to do.”

Z am­bia have been the most suc­cess­ful side in the his­tory of the cham­pi­onships with 10 vic­to­ries to their name, fol­lowed by Zim­babwe with six. South Africa have claimed five ti­tles, while Mada­gas­car lifted the tro­phy in 2005. — Cosafa/Se­nior Sports Re­porter

Lloyd Zvasiya

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