The Comoros Islands are relishing a return to the COSAFA Cup in 2018 as they seek to showcase their vast improvement in international football on the regional stage when they feature in the tournament that will be played in South Africa’s Limpopo province from May 27-June 9.
The Indian Ocean island have competed in the Southern African championship twice before, in 2008 and 2009, exiting in the first round on both occasions.
They have chosen to return to the main table this year as coach Amir Abdou seeks to bridge the gap between their previous international against Kenya in March and the resumption of the African Nations Cup qualifiers in September, when they host giants Cameroon.
“If we do not fight to play friendly matches, it will be very complicated for the future,” Abdou told www.comorosfootball.com. “The March and June FIFA dates are important. It will be very difficult, if not suicidal, to run against Cameroon in September [without playing beforehand].
“The advantage with the COSAFA Cup is that we have the opportunity to play at least three games each year with top-ranked nations. Games that count in addition to the FIFA rankings, as well as being important [preparation] matches.”
Comoros have been drawn in Group A at the 2018 COSAFA Cup along with Madagascar, Mozambique and Seychelles. The top team in the pool will advance to the quarterfinals, where they will face hosts South Africa.
Comoros are coming off a 2-2 draw in Kenya in their last international in March, a performance that pleased Abdou.
“We missed a lot of players. We had only three days of preparation and we still played well,” the coach said. “We would have liked to have a week of preparations but unfortunately it was not possible.
“I was happy with the performance. This game gave us a chance to assess some players and I am happy with the way they performed.”
Recent results highlight the improvement of Comoros, they have lost just once in their last five internationals and in the last year have beaten Lesotho, Namibia and Mauritania, and secured a draw with Madagascar.
They have drafted in players such as France-born Fouad Bachirou, who features for top Swedish side Malmo.
“Comoros is a really small country, and not many people will know about the team,” Bachirou told FIFA.com. “We hardly played for years and that was one of the biggest problems. But since the current coach [Abdou] came in at the same time as me in 2014, we have progressed so much.
“The passion for football in the country is incredible.”