Mpofu names U20 Cosafa squad

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Sikhum­buzo Moyo Se­nior Sports Re­porter

THE Zim­babwe Un­der-20 head coach Mandla Mpofu will to­day name a 35-mem­ber squad to start prepa­ra­tions for the 2016 PPC spon­sored Cosafa Un­der20 cham­pi­onship to be held in South Africa next month.

The tour­na­ment is mak­ing a re­turn af­ter be­ing halted in 2013 and will run from De­cem­ber 7-16 at the Mog­wase and Moru­leng Sta­di­ums in the North West province of South Africa.

“We will be call­ing up 35 play­ers and ex­pect to go into camp in Harare on Novem­ber 21 and stay there un­til our de­par­ture for South Africa,” said Mpofu.

Zim­babwe were drawn in Group B with Zam­bia and Malawi.

De­fend­ing cham­pi­ons and hosts South Africa have Le­sotho, Swazi­land and Botswana in Group A, while Group C has An­gola, Namibia, Sey­chelles and Mau­ri­tius.

Group D has Mozam­bique, Co­moros Is­lands and East African guest na­tion Rwanda, who will be com­pet­ing in the place of Mada­gas­car.

While Mpofu did not give a hint on who is likely to be called up, High­landers’ Prince Dube is al­most cer­tain to make the side, as he has been a reve­la­tion for the Bu­l­awayo gi­ants and also re­mains odds on favourite to grab the PSL Rookie of the Year award.

Zifa South­ern Re­gion Di­vi­sion One cham­pi­ons Bantu Rovers, a model of ju­nior devel­op­ment, should also have a num­ber of play­ers be­ing called up.

The teams will play each other in a round-robin for­mat at the Cosafa tour­na­ment, 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 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. e third-place play-off and fi­nal of the com­pe­ti­tion will both be played on De­cem­ber 16 and two venues, the Mog­wase Sta­dium and Moru­leng Sta­dium will be used for the tour­na­ment, with the lat­ter set to ex­clu­sively host the semi-fi­nals and fi­nal. Zam­bia 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 and Mada­gas­car once. In the last edi­tion of the tour­na­ment in 2013, Zim­babwe lost 2-4 on penal­ties to South Africa in the semi-fi­nals.

Mandla Mpofu

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