Powerhouses Zambia and Cameroon have been draw together in Group B at the 2018 COSAFA Women’s Championships that will be staged in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Arica from September 12-22.
The draw for the prestigious regional competition was made in Johannesburg on Wednesday and pits the duo, who have both qualified for the 2018 African Women’s Championships later in the year, against one another.
They will also face Lesotho and Mozambique in their pool, which will serve as excellent preparation for the continental finals.
Hosts and defending champions South Africa are the top seeds in Group A and they will take on Botswana, Madagascar and Malawi in their bid to reach the semifinals for the sixth successive time in this competition.
Coach Desiree Ellis is also priming her squad for the African Women’s Championships and selected a full-strength squad that includes all of her major overseas-based stars.
She is taking nothing for granted though and says respect must be given to all of their opponents.
“People might look at this and think it is an easy group, but nothing is easy in this game,” Ellis said. “Botswana gave us a good run last year [in a 1-1 draw], so we know what we are up against.”
Group C contains 2011 winners and last year’s runners-up Zimbabwe, along with Swaziland, Namibia and East African guest nation Uganda.
“It is such a good opportunity for us to be invited to the COSAFA Women’s Championship and we will do our best to improve our game,” says Uganda coach Faridah Bulega.
“It is our first time and we know there are many strong teams in the field, but we will do our best and any positive results that come our way we will truly appreciate.
“It is a difficult draw for us, but any of the 11 teams we could have got would have presented a challenge.”
The top team in each pool will advance to the semifinals along with the best-placed runners-up.
There will be two stadiums used during the event, the 10,000-seater Wolfson Stadium and 3,000-seater Gelvandale Stadium.
The first COSAFA Women’s Championship was held in Zimbabwe in 2002 and was won by South Africa, who beat their hosts 2-1 in the final.
Four years later and the South Africans triumphed again at the finals in Zambia, when they beat Namibia 3-1 in the decider. South Africa then made it three in a row when they beat Zimbabwe in the finals of the 2008 tournament in Malange, Angola.
Zimbabwe then claimed the title in 2011, when they also acted as hosts, defeating South Africa 1-0 in the final.
Banyana Banyana got their revenge in Bulawayo 12 months ago though as they ran out 2-1 winners, their fourth trophy win in five events.
2018 COSAFA WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP DRAW