The 12 nations that will compete in the 2017 COSAFA Under-20 Championships to be staged in Zambia from December 6-16 have been confirmed with two exciting guest teams set to light up the regional showpiece event.
North African powerhouse Egypt will be sending their crop of youngsters along with East African side Uganda, who have made great strides in senior football in the last few years.
They will defending champions and host Zambia in the first round, along with six-time winners Zimbabwe and last year’s beaten finalists South Africa. Angola, who have never lifted the trophy despite playing in four finals, have confirmed their entrance too, along with Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland.
It will make for a field of contrasting styles that will be compelling viewing for fans.
Zambia are also the African champions having lifted that trophy earlier this year, and excelled at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in South Korea where they reached the quarterfinals before an unlucky 3-2 extra-time loss to Italy.
Egypt have reached the global showpiece on eight previous occasions and are also four-time continental winners, the last time they lifted the trophy being in 2013. Uganda have twice played in the African Under-20 Championship, though not since 1987, but their senior team made a return to the African Nations Cup this year after an absence of 40 years.
The draw for the first round group stages will be held next week with the 12 teams to be placed in three pool each containing four sides.
The group winners will then advance to the semifinals along with the best runner-up, the same format that was used for the successful COSAFA Women’s Championship that was held in September.
The matches will be played at two venues in Kitwe, the Arthur Davies Stadium and Nkana Stadium, with the potential for the final to be staged at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.
The 12 nations to compete at the 2017 COSAFA Under-20 Championships: