With a little under two weeks to go to the start of the 2022 HOLLYWOODBETS COSAFA Women’s Championship, the excitement is building ahead of what will be a fascinating competition in Nelson Mandela Bay from August 31-September 11.
Here is a reminder of the groups, the fixtures and just what to expect in what is likely to be a tightly contested race for the trophy. Only the top team in each pool and the best-placed runner-up among the three pools advance to the semifinals.
31-Aug Mauritius vs Mozambique 12h00
31-Aug South Africa vs Angola 15h30
03-Sep Angola vs Mozambique 12h00
03-Sep South Africa vs Mauritius 15h30
06-Sep Mauritius vs Angola 15h30
06-Sep Mozambique vs South Africa 15h30
Summary: Hosts South Africa are seeking to regain the title they lost last year but have selected an experimental squad and may be seen as ripe for the picking among their opponents.
They have a lot of recent history with Mozambique, having knocked the latter out of the qualifiers for the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, and also met in the 2021 COSAFA Women’s Championship, where South Africa won 3-1.
Banyana Banyana were also in the same pool with Angola last year and that game ended 0-0, while the latter and Mozambique played to a 2-2 draw in their clash.
So there is a lot of familiarity among the teams, with the only slight unknown being Mauritius, who return to the competition for the first time since 2019.
01-Sep Lesotho vs Eswatini 12h00
01-Sep Zambia vs Namibia 15h30
04-Sep Namibia vs Eswatini 12h00
04-Sep Zambia vs Lesotho 15h30
06-Sep Lesotho vs Namibia 12h00
06-Sep Eswatini vs Zambia 12h00
Summary: Zambia will no doubt be the favourites in this group after qualifying for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year, but the rest of the pool will certainly feel they can cause an upset.
This will also be the second year in a row that Zambia and Namibia meet, with the Copper Queens having eased to a 3-0 win in 2021. The Brave Gladiators will be better prepared in terms of knowing what to expect this time round. They also faced off in 2019 when Zambia won 3-2.
Eswatini will be wary of the sight of the Zambians having played them last year and lost 5-0, as will Lesotho, who lost 8-0 to the Copper Queens in 2020.
Both sides will feel they have improved since then and be ready for a much tighter contest this time round.
02-Sep Tanzania vs Comoros 12h00
02-Sep Botswana vs Malawi 15h30
05-Sep Malawi vs Comoros 12h00
05-Sep Botswana vs Tanzania 15h30
07-Sep Tanzania vs Malawi 15h30
07-Sep Comoros vs Botswana 15h30
Summary: Tanzania are the defending champions at the COSAFA Women’s Championship having lifted the trophy by beating Malawi in the final last year.
Those two will do battle again, this time in the pool phase, with revenge no doubt on the minds of the SheFlames.
Botswana, who reached the quarterfinals of the recent Wafcon in Morocco, will also be confident of top spot in the pool, while Comoros will hope to spring a surprise.
Botswana and Tanzania clashed in the group stage last year, with the East Africans running out 2-0 winners. Another revenge clash is therefore on the cards.
Those two sides also met in 2020 and on that occasion it was The Mares who triumphed with a 1-0 success.
Malawi and Comoros went toe-to-toe in 2019 and the SheFlames won that encounter 13-0, though the Indian Ocean Island side will want to show their vast improvement since then.