The 2016 COSAFA Castle Cup in Namibia from June 11-25 will provide the watching world with a glimpse of the best up-and-coming talent in the Southern African region over two weeks of intense competition.
But there will also be some more established stars with a point to prove, making it a fascinating tournament for the neutrals and fans alike.
We have chosen 10 players to watch at the tournament as the 14 competing sides go for glory.
FELIX BADENHORST (SWAZILAND)
Badenhorst is a stalwart of the current Swaziland side and almost helped the team into the quarterfinals of the COSAFA Castle Cup last year. He plays for Mbabane Swallows in his homeland, but has long been tipped for a return to the Premier Soccer League in South Africa, where he did turn out previously for Jomo Cosmos. He is a silky, cultured midfielder.
JONATHAN BOLINGI (DR CONGO)
Guest nation DR Congo are expected to send a strong squad to the 2016 COSAFA Castle Cup and included in that is likely to be 21-year-old TP Mazembe forward Jonathan Bolingi. The striker helped his club to the African Champions League title last season and has become a regular DR Congo international, scoring three goals at the African Nations Championship in Rwanda earlier this year as the side took the title.
SEGOLAME BOY (BOTSWANA)
Boy has become something of the poster-boy of Botswana football and a key element of the national team. He starred for the side at the COSAFA Castle Cup in South Africa last year and remains a crucial cog in coach Peter Butler’s line-up. He campaigns in Botswana for Township Rollers, but has been watched by a number of clubs from outside the country.
KEAGAN DOLLY (SOUTH AFRICA)
Dolly has had an excellent season for South African side Mamelodi Sundowns and is expected to captain the country at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August. The playmaker, who scores and creates goals, is likely to be given a run at the 2016 COSAFA Castle Cup in Namibia in preparation for that event and has the potential to be a match-winner for Bafana Bafana.
Teenager Gelson has had a remarkable career to date having burst onto the scene as a leading scorer for Angola. He has seven goals in his last 13 starts for Palancas Negras and has netted against Swaziland, South Africa and DR Congo in recent times. The 19-year-old plays for Primeiro de Agosto in Angola, but is set to join Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon in January 2017 to begin his career in Europe.
EMMANUEL MBOLA (ZAMBIA)
There are any number of talented stars to pick out of the Zambian national side but 22-year-old left-back is always an exciting player to watch. He has been in and out of the Zambia side in recent times, but should view the COSAFA Castle Cup as an excellent opportunity to re-establish himself. Mbola currently plays for Israeli side Hapoel Ra’anana and was once heavily linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur.
FRANK MHANGO (MALAWI)
Mhango is a lively forward with a habit of scoring spectacular goals and could be the main man to lead the line for Malawi’s Flames. They have a number of top striking options, but his movement and bustling style are a handful for any defence. Mhango will join top South African Premier Soccer League side BidVest Wits next season, but for the current campaign is on loan at Lamontville Golden Arrows.
TENDAI NDORO (ZIMBABWE)
Zimbabwe is packed with talented forwards but one who has come into his own in recent months is Tendai Ndoro. The striker has netted eight goals in his last six starts for South African Premier Soccer League side Orlando Pirates and is arguably in the form of his life. He faces stiff opposition to get into the Zimbabwe line-up, but if selected will be confident of continuing to bang in the goals.
PETER SHALULILE (NAMIBIA)
Namibia’s charge to the 2015 COSAFA Castle Cup title showed they are a side of immense potential and exciting young talent, no more so than 23-year-old left-winger Shalulile. He has been starring for South African side Highlands Park in the National First Division, but is being tracked by a number of top-flight clubs, including giants Mamelodi Sundowns, and is almost certain to appear in the Premier Soccer League in the next campaign. A strong showing at the COSAFA Castle Cup on home soil will only add to his growing reputation.
SARIVAHY VOMBOLA (MADAGASCAR)
Vombola finished as the top-scorer at the 2015 COSAFA Castle Cup and has continued that rich vein of form for Madagascan side CNaPS Sport, who he helped advance to the second round of the African Champions League this season. He netted five times in as many games in South Africa last year and will lead the line again for the ever-improving Malagasy national team.