Zimbabwe, Zambia square off in Cosafa U20
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