History of the COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship

There have only been three previous editions of the COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship, with the first played in Mauritius in 2019.  Here is a quick recap of those tournaments ahead of the latest edition that will be played as part of the Region 5 Games Lilongwe 2022 from December 1-10.

2019 COSAFA WOMEN’S UNDER-17 CHAMPIONSHIP
Mauritius, which had hosted the men’s Under-17 tournament for the three previous years, took over the staging of the women’s event as a further sign of their commitment to the development of football in the region.
Eight sides took part in the first competition, with Botswana, Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, South Africa, East African guest nation Uganda and Zambia making history at the inaugural event.
Uganda and Zambia emerged as the top two in Group A, each with seven points, having played to a 1-1 draw in their opener.
The Ugandans were top of the pool on goal-difference following their thumping 20-0 victory over Comoros.
That was not, however the biggest victory in the pool stages. South Africa won all three of their Group B games, which included a 28-0 victory over Seychelles. Botswana took second place in the pool to complete the semifinal line-up
Uganda breezed past the Botswanans with a 12-0 victory, but the second semi was a much tighter affair as South Africa edged Zambia 2-1.
Zambia claimed the bronze medal with a 3-0 win over Botswana in the third-place play-off, while the final again proved an epic battle.
Fauzia Najjemba had Uganda ahead on 56 minutes, but Tiffany Kortjie equalised with 15 minutes to go. The prolific Juliet Nalukenge would not be denied though and her late winner sealed the trophy for the East Africans.
Nalukenge finished top scorer with an incredible 18 goals in five games, while her teammate Daphine Nyayenga won the Golden Glove for her exploits between the posts.
South African captain Jessica Wade was named Player of the Tournament for her expert all-round displays that highlight her quality as a real star of the future in the women’s game.
In all, there were 158 goals scored in only 16 games, almost 10 per match, in what was a highly entertaining inaugural tournament.

2020 COSAFA WOMEN’S UNDER-17 CHAMPIONSHIP
By the time the 2020 tournament rolled around, the world was gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic, so it was a credit to COSAFA’s level of organisation that the competition went ahead at all.
The venue was moved to South Africa due to the virus and had only five participants, with travel restrictions making it impossible for some nations to send teams.
Comoros returned for a second time, while Tanzania were invited guests and joined heavyweights South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe in a single five-team pool.
Although Comoros lost all four games, conceding 20 goals in the process, it was a vastly improved showing on the previous year and a sign of their tremendous progress.
Zimbabwe picked up just a single win and actually conceded more goals than the Comoros with 24, not helped by a 7-0 loss to South Africa and a 10-1 defeat by Tanzania.
The South Africans would have had hopes of lifting the trophy, but in the end did not make the final as defeats to both Zambia (1-2) and Tanzania (1-6) saw them finish third in the pool.
Zambia topped the group with a full haul of four wins, including a 2-1 success over Tanzania, who they met in the decider at the magnificent Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
It was another epic contest that saw Zambia take the lead through Comfort Selemani, only for Tanzania to equalize in injury-time with a disputed penalty from their star Aisha Masaka.
That took the game to penalties and it was Tanzania who triumphed 4-3 in the shoot-out.
Zambia’s Tisilile Lungu won the Player of the Tournament prize, while to Golden Glove went to her teammate, goalkeeper Chitete Munsaka, as the side conceded just five goals in the competition, the fewest of all the teams.
Masaka of Tanzania lifted the Golden Boot trophy with her 10 goals.

2021 COSAFA WOMEN’S UNDER-17 CHAMPIONSHIP
The Omicron variant of COVID-19 played havoc with the scheduling for the competition in 2021, which was played as part of the already postponed Region 5 Games Maseru 2020.
In the end only three teams were able to take part due to the travel case that has ensued around the world, and particularly hit the Southern African region.
The first round was played as a mini-group, where each team toon on each other and the top two sides advanced to the finals.
Zambia showed their early promise with a 3-1 victory over Botswana in their opener, a brace from Lucy Kajiya sealing the victory,
And they booked their final place by beating Namibia 2-0 in their next game as Zangose Zulu and Gracious Tailoshi found the back of the net.
That left Botswana and Namibia to slug it out for the a place in the final and it was the former who triumphed 2-1 to claim their place.
The decider turned into a one-sided affair though as Zambia swept to a 4-0 victory to claim the gold medal
Jessy Zulu, Kajiya, Pumulo Lubasi and Tailoshi all scored in a comfortable win. Lubasi was named as Player of the Tournament, Kajiya won the Golden Boot, while Zambia goalkeeper Chitete Munsaka took home the Golden Glove.