The 2020 COSAFA Men’s Under-20 Championships will be staged in Nelson Mandela Bay from December 3-13 and provide teams from the region with an excellent opportunity to test their new generation of young stars.
But over and above that, it also serves as a zonal qualifier for the 2021 Africa Under-20 Cup of Nations that will be staged in Mauritania.
It is a competition that has seem some excellent football played over the last few years and this year there is an exciting line-up of teams ready to take part.
Here is a quick guide to each of the three groups, with only the top team in each pool and the best-placed runner-up advancing to the semifinals:
Hosts South Africa will kick-off their campaign with a tough clash against old foe Zimbabwe on Dec. 3, which already has the potential to be something of a pool decider.
But it would also be foolish to write off the other two teams in the pool, Mozambique and Lesotho, who meet in the tournament opener on the same day.
South Africa clash with Lesotho next three days later, before they finish up against Mozambique on Dec. 8.
Zimbabwe’s final game against Lesotho at the same time could also be crucial to both side’s semifinal chances in what is likely to be a tight pool.
Holders Zambia headline Group B as they seek to retain the title they won on home soil last year, and open their campaign against Namibia on Dec. 4, a side who are returning to this stage after missing out on the previous two years.
Zambia then play Comoros three days later, and finish with a potential pool decider against Malawi on Dec. 9.
Malawi will hope to be very much in contention by the time that fixture comes along, with games against Comoros (Dec. 4) and Namibia (Dec. 7) before that.
Group C is a three-team pool where Angola will view themselves as favourites as they open against Eswatini on Dec. 4. But they should beware their opponents, who won two of their three games last year but narrowly missed out on the semifinals.
Botswana are the other side in the pool and they play their first game against Angola on Dec. 6, becoming the last team to enter the competition. They will then tackle Eswatini in their final game (Dec. 8).
These sides will remain in the running for the best-placed runner-up as the results in Groups A and B will only take into account the results between the top three sides when calculating who advances in that position.