Hosts Zimbabwe have been drawn alongside old rivals Zambia in the first round of the 2017 COSAFA Women’s Championship as the draw on Wednesday threw up some mouth-watering clashes.
Madagascar and Malawi will join Zimbabwe and Zambia in Group A in what is sure to be a tightly-contested pool.
East African guest nation Kenya head up Group B, where they will face Mauritius, Mozambique and Swaziland in another pool that will be tough to predict. Three-time winners South Africa are in Group C along with neighbours Namibia, Lesotho and Botswana.
The competition will be played across two venues in Bulawayo, the Barbourfields Stadium and Luveve Stadium, and will get underway on September 13. The opening match will see Namibia take on Botswana (kick-off 10h30), before two clashes in Group A as Zambia take on Malawi (14h00) and Zimbabwe clash with Madagascar (16h30).
All of the matches in Group A will take place at Barbourfields Stadium, while all Group B games will be at Luveve Stadium. The matches in Group C will be evenly split between the two venues.
The teams play each other in a round-robin format with the pool winners and best-placed runner-up advancing to the semifinals, which will be played on September 21. The final will be played three days later on September 24, with the bronze-medal game played the day before.
With 12 teams competing this year, it is the biggest ever field assembled for the COSAFA Women’s Championship and shows the tremendous growth in women’s football in the last decade.
Zimbabwe will be the defending championships having won the last tournament played on home soil in 2011, while South Africa claimed victory in the three tournaments before that played in 2002, 2006 and 2008.
2017 COSAFA WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP POOL STAGE FIXTURES
September 13 (Barbourfields Stadium)
10h30 Namibia vs Botswana
14h00 Zambia vs Malawi
16h30 Zimbabwe vs Madagascar
September 14 (Luveve Stadium)
10h30 Mauritius vs Swaziland
14h00 Kenya vs Mozambique
16h30 South Africa vs Lesotho
September 15 (Barbourfields Stadium)
10h30 Madagascar vs Malawi
14h00 South Africa vs Namibia
16h30 Zimbabwe vs Zambia
September 16 (Luveve Stadium)
10h30 Kenya vs Mauritius
14h00 Lesotho vs Botswana
16h30 Mozambique vs Swaziland
September 17 (Barbourfields Stadium)
10h30 Zambia vs Madagascar
14h00 Zimbabwe vs Malawi
16h30 South Africa vs Botswana
September 18 (Luveve Stadium)
10h30 Namibia vs Lesotho
14h00 Mauritius vs Mozambique
16h30 Kenya vs Swaziland