The draw for the 2016 COSAFA Castle Cup to be staged in Namibia from June 11-25 has thrown up some tasty ties, not least a quarterfinal meeting between guest nation DR Congo and last year’s runners-up Mozambique.
Holders and hosts Namibia begin the defence of their title with a tricky quarterfinal clash against Botswana, while Zambia and South Africa will face the winners of first round Groups A and B respectively.
Those two pools are packed with talent, with Group A featuring Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Seychelles and one of the surprise packages from 2015, Madagascar.
Group B contains Malawi, Angola, Lesotho and Mauritius and is another tough pool to call.
The first round group stage will take up the first week of the tournament from June 11, with just the top team in each pool advancing to the quarterfinals.
The championship then continues in a knockout format, with the quarterfinal losers dropping into the Plate competition that was first introduced in 2013 and last year was claimed by Malawi.
“There are some hugely exciting matches for fans from all across the COSAFA region to enjoy and I know it is going to be a fantastic tournament in Namibia, which is a wonderful host country. Our goal, as always, is to help develop the future stars of tomorrow and showcase the talent that exists within the Southern African region. The 2016 COSAFA Castle Cup has the potential to be the best yet and the draw has only added to the sense of anticipation ahead of the tournament,” said Timothy Shongwe, Chairman of the Organising Committee of the 2016 COSAFA Castle Cup.
Namibia will be hosting the event for the first time and do so as holders, with Windhoek set to stage the matches across two venues.
“We are delighted to be hosting the COSAFA Castle Cup for the first time and being able to bring a tournament of this stature to the doorstep of the people of Namibia. We hosted a successful African Women’s Championship in 2014 and for us this is the next step in showing that Namibia is capable of hosting major tournaments.
We look forward to welcoming the 13 other competing nations, and, of course, to defending the trophy we won in South Africa 12 months ago,” said Barry Rukoro, Secretary-General of the Namibia Football Association.
The COSAFA Castle Cup was launched in 1997 and very quickly became one of the most exciting competitions on the African soccer calendar.
The emergence of the COSAFA Castle Cup has also had much to do with the rise to prominence and the growth in strength of the southern region in African soccer.
It has given the COSAFA member countries opportunities to increase their international profile and seek further success on other stages, like that of the African Nations Cup finals and the World Cup finals.
Zambia and Zimbabwe have each claimed four titles each, with South Africa and Angola three-time winners. Namibia claimed their first championship when they won the 2015 COSAFA Castle Cup.
2016 COSAFA CASTLE CUP FIRST ROUND
A1 – Zimbabwe
A2 – Swaziland
A3 – Seychelles
A4 – Madagascar
B1 – Malawi
B2 – Angola
B3 – Lesotho
B4 – Mauritius
QF1 – South Africa vs Winner Group B
QF2 – Botswana vs Namibia
QF3 – Zambia vs Winner Group A
QF4 – DR Congo vs Mozambique