South African Football Association (SAFA) president Dr Danny Jordaan says the country is proud to host the 2017 COSAFA Castle Cup and paid tribute to the role the regional championship has played in developing the game in Southern Africa.
The COSAFA Castle Cup will be staged in South Africa’s North West province from June 25-July 9, returning to the venue of the successful hosting of the tournament in 2015, as well as the 2016 COSAFA Under-20 Championships last December.
“We as South Africans are very proud to host this tournament,” Dr Jordaan said. “This competition has grown so much over the last 20 years and Southern African teams are more competitive as a result.
“As we speak, COSAFA has two Under-20 teams in the World Cup in South Korea – South Africa and Zambia. COSAFA also had two teams in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro – South Africa [men and women] and Zimbabwe.
“Zimbabwe represented COSAFA in the  African Nations Cup, while Zimbabwe and South Africa also represented COSAFA in the Women’s African Nations Cup.
“For teams from Southern Africa, and particularly senior teams, the COSAFA Castle Cup provides the platform for growth, opportunity and development.”
Dr Jordaan is also pleased that the competition will once again be staged in the North West province, where the world-class Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Rustenburg and Moruleng Stadium will be used to host matches.
“I have no doubt that when we go back to the North West, where we were for the recent [COSAFA] Under-20 tournament [in December 2016], to enjoy the hospitality from the provincial government, it will be a great occasion.
“I want to thank the North West government, they have always been a source of strength, inspiration and always ready to do what is necessary to ensure the success of any tournament in the province.”
The 2017 COSAFA Castle Cup comes at a crucial time for national teams as part of a busy period of qualifiers across three other competitions.
“The COSAFA Castle Cup stands amidst four important competitions for our senior national teams – the qualifiers for the  African Nations Cup finals, the COSAFA Castle Cup, then the qualifiers for the African Nations Championships (CHAN), and finally the qualification for the World Cup,” Dr Jordaan said.
“It is going to be a jam-packed season for all of our teams, and this COSAFA Castle Cup tournament will provide us with the opportunity to fine-tune our squads and make sure we are ready to compete.
“I am very happy because we [SAFA] have a new coach and it gives Stuart Baxter the opportunity to have a look again at the kind of player he needs in the battle of CHAN, World Cup qualifiers and African Nations Cup.
Dr Jordaan also had praise for sponsors Castle Lager, who were also partners of the inaugural COSAFA Castle Cup in 1997 and have been regular sponsors of the event since.
“Football in our region, particularly national team football, would not be possible without Castle Lager, who as you may know, are also sponsors of one of the 14 teams [South Africa] playing in the COSAFA Castle Cup … a team that has won this competition four times together with Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“I want to thank Castle Lager for this commitment and their contribution to African football.”