There has been a late change to the line-up for the 2018 MOPANI Copper Mines COSAFA Under-20 Championships after Reunion gave notice of their intention to withdraw.
Reunion will be replaced by a team from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who have been no strangers to COSAFA events in the recent past and always bring skill and flair to THE tournaments they take part in.
Reunion, an associate member of COSAFA, had indicated an eager willingness to take part in what would have been a first ever regional competition at any age-group level for the Indian Ocean island, which is a region of France.
But post-Wednesday’s draw in Kitwe, the football association said that they would be forced to withdraw as they could not secure reliable flights from Reunion to Zambia for the event.
DR Congo will take their place in Group A for the competition, which will be played in Kitwe from December 2-14. Also in that pool are hosts Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.
“We are disappointed that Reunion will not be following up their interest in playing at the MOPANI Copper Mines COSAFA Under-20 Championships after they had approached COSAFA with the wish to be included,” COSAFA president Dr Phillip Chiyangwa said.
“But we are delighted to welcome DR Congo, who are a nation with a rich football history and great pedigree. They played in our Under-20 tournament in 2016 and won the bronze medal, and they will no doubt be among the teams to beat again.
“We thank them for stepping in at this relatively late stage and know they will bring an added dimension to the competition, both in terms of skill and entertainment.”
DR Congo also took part in the 2016 COSAFA Cup for senior national teams, where they finished fourth.
The first round draw for the COSAFA Under-20 Championships this year sees defending champions South Africa placed in Group B along with Namibia, Mauritius and eSwatini, while Group C contains Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Angola and Botswana.
Matches will be broadcast live on Kwesé TV.