Zambia coach Oswald Mutapa is set to lead the side at the COSAFA Under-20 Championship in Eswatini next month, the draw for which is scheduled to take place on Wednesday where the Young Chipolopolo, along with the other teams competing, will learn their fate.
The competition will be played from December 10-18, with Zambia among the favourites having been the most successful side on the tournament’s history.
They will be hoping to add to their 11 titles, the last of which came in 2019 under Mutapa, who had led the national Under-17 side to the COSAFA title that same year.
It was a commanding performance from the side two years ago as they claimed a full haul of nine points in the pool stages, before seeing off Angola 3-0 in the semifinals.
That was followed by victory against old foe South Africa by the same comprehensive margin in the decider.
Zambia were also rampant in 2016 as they stormed through that competition and inflicted a 2-1 defeat on their hosts South Africa in the decider.
They went on to claim the 2017 Africa Under-20 Championships title on home soil, and also excelled at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in South Korea in May last year.
But the side disappointed in the COSAFA Men’s Under-20 Championship on home soil in 2017, bowing out in the first round after a defeat to East African guest nation Uganda was followed by a draw with Malawi and a win over Eswatini.
They did make the semifinals on home soil in 2018, but lost 2-1 to Zimbabwe and were then beaten 2-1 by Angola in the bronze-medal match.
They reached the semifinals again in 2020, a competition played in South Africa, winning all three pool matches against Namibia (1-0), Comoros (2-0) and Malawi (2-0).
They came unstuck in the semifinals though when they were held 0-0 by Mozambique, before losing 5-4 on penalties. They were beaten 2-1 by Angola in the bronze-medal match.
Zambia have won four of the last eight COSAFA Under-20 Championships played, one in every two, so they will hope that trend continues and they make up for last year’s disappointment.
Zambia have also been fairly regular visitors to the Africa Under-20 Championship. They have appeared at the continental tournament on seven previous occasions and apart from their gold medal in 2017, they also finished fourth in 1991, 1999 and 2007.
ZAMBIA FINISHES IN LAST 22 YEARS
1999 – Winners
2000 – Quarterfinals
2001 – Third
2002 – Fourth
2003 – Winners
2004 – Runners-up
2005 – Third
2006 – Runners-up
2007 – Group stages
2008 – Group stages
2009 – Runners-up
2010 – Winners
2011 – Winners
2013 – Group stages
2016 – Winners
2017 – Group stages
2018 – Fourth
2019 – Winners
2020 – Fourth