The fixtures are out for the TotalEnergies AFCON U20 Egypt 2023 | COSAFA Qualifier that will be staged in Eswatini from October 7-16, with the hosts set to open their campaign against Group A rivals Botswana at the Somhlolo Stadium.
The unveiling of the fixtures has revealed the tournament will start a day later than originally planned as it gets under way with 11-time winners Zambia taking on Mauritius in their Group A game at 12h00 CAT on Oct. 7.
That match will also be at the Somhlolo Stadium, which has undergone extensive refurbishment in recent times and is back in use as the main national venue in Eswatini.
It is a welcome return for a stadium that has seen many classic clashes down the years and some excellent wins for the home side.
The other two groups in the continental qualifier will get under way on Oct. 8, when a bumper four matches will be played.
Angola take on Lesotho at the Mavuso Stadium (kick-off 12h00 CAT) in the Group B opener, while later in the day, defending champions Mozambique play Seychelles at the same venue (15h30 CAT).
Group C sees eight-time winners South Africa take on Malawi at the Somhlolo Stadium (12h00 CAT), before Namibia tackle Comoros at the same venue at 15h30 CAT.
The competition will continue in a round-robin format with the last group games to be played on Oct. 12.
The semifinals on Oct. 14 will see the winner of Group B take on the top team in Group C, while the winner of Group A plays the best-placed runner-up from the three pools.
The final and third-place play-off will both be played on Oct. 16 at the Somhlolo Stadium.
COSAFA’s Under-20 tournament is the zonal preliminary competition for the TotalEnergies AFCON U20 Egypt 2023 that will be held in Egypt from February 18-March 12 next year. The two finalists in Eswatini will qualify.
That CAF event in turn serves as the qualifier for the 2023 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Indonesia, so the long road to the global finals begins in the Kingdom of Eswatini.