The HOLLYWOODBETS COSAFA CUP 2022 will light up Durban from Tuesday when the regional showpiece competition kicks off with a clash between Seychelles and Botswana at the King Zwelithini Stadium, the start of the long road to the final that will be played on July 17.
It will be the first time that fans are allowed into the stadium at the COSAFA Cup since the tournament was last played in Durban in 2019, and tickets will be FREE for fans throughout the tournament.
They can be collected from the match venues on the day before the matches are played. You can find the full match schedule here.
Tuesday marks the start of the journey for the 14 competing teams, with the first round composed of two groups each containing four teams.
Seychelles, whose only ever win in the competition came with a record 7-0 success over Mauritius in 2008, will be hoping for a maiden place in the knockout stages.
Botswana have been two-time finalists but have yet to lift the coveted trophy and may well believe this is their year. The match kicks off at 14h00 CAT.
The second game in the pool will be between Angola, making a first appearance since 2018, and Comoros, who have shown a massive improvement in recent years. Kick-off is at 17h00.
Group B will get underway on Wednesday as Mauritius tackle last year’s bronze medalists Eswatini at the same venue at 14h00, and later in the day Lesotho handle Malawi at 17h00.
Matches will also be broadcast on SuperSport and streamed via COSAFA.TV.
Defending champions South Africa will enter the competition at the quarterfinal stage when they take on Mozambique on July 13, a repeat of the semifinal last year that Bafana Bafana won 3-0.
West African guest nation Senegal are back for a second year in a row, hoping to turn silver into gold after they were beaten via penalties by Bafana 12 months ago. They will meet the winner of Group B on the same day.
Madagascar and Namibia meet in the first quarterfinal on July 12, while Zambia will face the winner of Group A in their Last 8 match-up.
The losing quarterfinalists will drop into the Plate competition, the final of which will also be on July 17.
The Cup competition will continue with semifinals, with the losers at that stage to contest the bronze-medal match, also on July 17.
The 20 previous editions of the competition have seen some great performances and incredible games that have been written into the folklore of Southern African football, but only five nations can claim to have lifted the coveted trophy.
Zimbabwe (six wins), Zambia (five) and South Africa (five), Angola (three) and Namibia (one) are the only other teams to claim glory.
Mozambique, Malawi and Botswana have all been finalists twice, but ended up on the losing side on both occasions. Lesotho (2000) are the only other team to reach the decider, with Senegal being the first guest nation to do so last year.
Aside from silver medalists Senegal, other invited guests have been Tanzania (1997, 2015 and 2018), who picked up bronze four years ago, as well as Kenya (2013), Ghana (2015), DR Congo (2016) and Uganda (2019).