The 18thedition of the COSAFA Cup will make history as for the first time all 14 members of the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations will take part in the regional showpiece competition to be staged in South Africa’s Limpopo province from May 27 to June 9.
The desire for all members of COSAFA to compete shows the value and importance of the tournament in developing skills on and off the pitch in Southern Africa, a key component of the event since it was first played in 1997.
“We are delighted that all of our members will take the opportunity to compete at the COSAFA Cup, which is not only a celebration of excellence in Southern African football, but also gives players, coaches and referees the chance to hone their skills in the international environment,” says Timothy Shongwe, COSAFA Executive Committee – Competitions.
“The COSAFA Cup has a rich history of developing talent in all areas in our region and is vital for many countries as a tournament that provides them with international exposure.
“We would like to thank all our stakeholders for making this tournament possible again this year, including our gracious hosts, the South African Football Association and the beautiful Limpopo Province.”
Zimbabwe return as defending champions having claimed a record fifth COSAFA Cup title in South Africa last year and they will face the winner of Group B in the quarterfinals, which contains powerhouse Angola, Botswana, Mauritius and Malawi.
Hosts South Africa will take on the winner of Group A, which contains Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros Islands and Seychelles. The other two quarterfinals will see four-time winners Zambia clash with Namibia and Lesotho take on Swaziland.
There was also a major announcement on Wednesday when the prize money for the 2017 COSAFA Women’s Championship was handed over, totaling R1-million from sponsors Kwesé TV, the same amount that was made available to the men.
South African captain Refiloe Janereceived a cheque for R500,000, while losing skipper last year Talent Mandazafrom Zimbabwe, received R250,000. Zambia collected R150,000 for third place and East African guest nation Kenya R100,000 for fourth.
“We take great pride in being able to elevate the prize-money for the COSAFA Women’s Championship to the same level as for our senior men’s competition to make a statement about how seriously we take women’s football in the region,” says COSAFA President, Dr Phillip Chiyangwa.
“Our teams have made great strides in recent years, including both South Africa and Zimbabwe representing the African continent at the Olympic Games last year, and we are sure that this will assist in the development of the women’s game in our region.”
South Africa and Zambia have each claimed four titles in the COSAFA Cup competition before, while Angola have three and Namibia celebrated their single success in 2015.