The much-anticipated draw for the 2017 COSAFA Castle Cup will take place on Tuesday evening when the 14 competing sides will learn their path to glory in this the 20th year of the competition.
The tournament will be played in South Africa’s North West province from June 25-July 9, with the hosts also the defending champions after they claimed the trophy in Namibia last year.
The draw will take place in Johannesburg at 18h15 and will be attended by a host of dignatories, including COSAFA president Dr Phillip Chiyangwa.
Thirteen of the 14 COSAFA nations will take part this year, with only the Comoros Islands withdrawing their names from the draw hat. They will be replaced by Tanzania, who also competed in the inaugural tournament in 1997, as well as recently as 2015.
The format of the competition will remain the same as last year, though one change sees the teams ranked based on past COSAFA Castle Cup performance, rather than the FIFA World Rankings as has been the case in the past.
The eight lowest positioned sides based on this criteria enter the first round and will be drawn into two pools each containing four teams.
They are Seychelles, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Angola, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar.
The top teams in each pool advance to the knockout stage, where they will be joined by the remaining six sides in the quarterfinals – South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia, Zambia and Lesotho.
There will be seeds in the quarterfinals, namely South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland and Namibia, meaning those sides cannot be drawn against one another.
The four quarterfinal winners carry on through the Cup competition, while the losers enter the Plate tournament that was last year won by Namibia.
South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe have each won four COSAFA Castle Cup titles since the tournament was first played in 1997, with Angola (three wins) and Namibia the only other teams to lift the trophy.