COSAFA President Dr Phillip Chiyangwa has congratulated the five sides from the region who qualified for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations after the qualifiers were completed on Sunday, the most representatives from Southern Africa at the continental showpiece in 21 years.
The quintet will do battle at the expanded 24-team competition in Egypt from June 21-July 19, with the draw for the first-round pool stages scheduled for Cairo on April 12.
South Africa sealed their place with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Libya in neutral Sfax, Tunisia, with forward Percy Tau grabbing a brace of goals to send Bafana Bafana to their second tournament out of the last three.
Zimbabwe booked their place with a 2-0 home win over Congo-Brazzaville as Khama Billiat and Knowledge Musona scored first half goals, while Namibia lost 4-1 at already ousted Zambia on Saturday, but still managed to advance to the finals as luckless Mozambique conceded late on and were held to a 2-2 draw in Guinea-Bissau.
Angola earned their ticket their place on Friday night with a 1-0 win at already eliminated Botswana that saw them win their pool and advance along with Mauritania, and Madagascar had already sealed their qualification some time ago and finished their group campaign with a 2-0 loss at Senegal.
“We are immensely proud of the teams from our region who will fly the COSAFA flag in Egypt and believe this shows the growing strength of football in Southern Africa,” Chiyangwa.
“We believe this is a direct result of the work we at COSAFA have been doing at senior and junior national team level to help develop players in the region and give them exposure on the international stage.
“Players who have been unearthed in our Under-17 and Under-20 tournaments in the last few years are now stars of their senior teams and that is the exciting pathway that COSAFA provides.
“We wish all the teams the very best at the finals in Egypt and also commiserate with those who came close to qualification, but narrowly missed out.”
Lesotho were one of those sides who came close to adding to COSAFA’s numbers at the continental finals when they were held to a 0-0 draw in the Cape Verde Islands, when a win would have seen them on the plane to Egypt.
The Comoros Islands needed a win in Cameroon to clinch qualification but lost 3-0 to see their dream come to an end.