The MOPANI Copper Mines COSAFA Under-20 Championship has always been a fantastic breeding ground for young talent and the 2018 edition in Zambia from December 2-14 will be no different.
Last year the tournament helped to launch the careers of several stars, who have gone on to bigger and better things since.
Here are three that benefitted from the exposure they received in the 2017 championship played in Kitwe, Zambia.
MUHAMMAD SHABAN (UGANDA)
Shaban was top-scorer at the tournament last year with four goals, helping East African guest nation Uganda to fourth place. It has been a big year for him since, with a move to Moroccan giants Raja Casablanca materializing at the start of the 2018/19 season.
He featured in the 2018 African Champions league, netting against Ethiopian side St George and in the semifinal loss to Esperance, confirming his place as among the rising stars on the continent.
He had been handed his senior international debut as an 18-year-old by then Uganda coach Micho Sredojevic and has continued his development with The Cranes since.
LYLE FOSTER (SOUTH AFRICA)
Foster was the leading forward for South Africa as they lifted the trophy in Zambia last year and is now poised for a move to French Ligue 1 side Monaco.
Last year’sCOSAFA Under-20 Championship was a real coming of age for Foster, who showed maturity beyond his years to lead the line for the South Africans.They piqued the interest of a number of scouts from Europe and he has now had two successful trials with Monaco, who are coached by legendary striker Thierry Henry.
Foster is expected to make the move in the January transfer window, having only just turned 18.
PATRICK PHIRI (MALAWI)
Phiri was a stand-out performer for Malawi in Zambia 12 months ago and he has continued his progression, signing for top local side Big Bullets.
Added to that he also made his senior national team debut against Uganda in March and featured in the latest round of African Nations Cup qualifiers, earning a second cap in the 0-0 away draw with Cameroon.
He is homing in on a first league title with Bullets in 2018 and has also been selected for the. Malawi side that will start the 2020 Olympic Games qualification campaign against Botswana this month.