Hosts and holders Zambia will have to contend with a tricky first round group at the 2017 COSAFA Under-20 Championships after the draw for the pool stage was conducted in Johannesburg on Thursday.
African champions Zambia will take on Swaziland, East African guest nation Uganda and Malawi, with just the top team assured of a place in the semifinals.
The Young Chipolopolo will meet the Ugandans in their tournament opener at the Arthur Davies Stadium in Kitwe on December 6.
The regional showpiece competition will get under way earlier in the day when Swaziland take on Malawi.
The Group of Death in this year’s tournament appears to be Group B as last year’s runners-up South Africa must contend with North African guests Egypt, Mozambique and Mauritius.
Group C will also be a tough one to call with Angola, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe vying for top spot.
The top teams in each pool advance to the semifinals along with the best-placed runner-up.
Matches will be played at the Arthur Davies and Nkana stadiums in Kitwe. Angola will also be in action on the opening day against Namibia.
The group stage will be completed on December 12, followed by a rest day, with the semifinals to be staged at the Arthur Davies Stadium on December 14.
The third-place play-off and the final will move to the Levy Mwanawasa in Ndola on December 16.
2017 COSAFA UNDER-20 CHAMPIONSHIPS DRAW