This year might see the first ever staging of the COSAFA Women’s Under-20 Championship in Nelson Mandela Bay from August 1-11, but that does not mean there has not been regular competition at this level in the past.
COSAFA’s expertise has been used to stage the football competitions at the AUSC Region 5 Games in the last few years, where there has been an Under-20 women’s competition to go with the Under-17 men’s tournament.
That will, therefore, provide us with some form going into the inaugural COSAFA finals in South Africa, and it is the host nation that has excelled in recent competition.
Here is a quick look back at the last three Region 5 Games and who took home the gold medal.
2014 AUSC REGION 5 GAMES
The tournament only featured four teams and was played as a round-robin competition, which was won by South Africa as they claimed victory in all three of their matches.
After a 3-1 victory over Botswana in their opener, Banyana defeated Zimbabwe 5-0 and then claimed a 6-1 success over Namibia.
The likes of Linda Sepotokelle, Gabriella Salgado, Amogelang Motau and Mosili Makhoali all starred for the South Africans.
2016 AUSC REGION 5 GAMES
South Africa were crowned AUSC Zone 5 Games champions after beating neighbours Namibia 5-0 in the final in Luanda, Angola.
South Africa managed to impress throughout the tournament and current Banyana Banyana stars such as Karabo Dlamini and Linda Matlhola showed their star potential throughout.
A hat-trick by Dlamini and two goals from Matlhola was all they needed to unease the Brave Warriors in the final.
Angola’s campaign did not start well but ended on a high as they managed to get the bronze medal after a convincing 4-0 win over Zimbabwe in the third-place play-off.
2018 AUSC REGION 5 GAMES
South Africa retained their Women’s Under-20 title at 2018 Games after a slender 1-0 victory over hosts Botswana in the final in Gaborone.
Lindokuhle Gladile scored the only goal of the game on 75 minutes as South Africa kept up their excellent record in this competition to take home the gold medal, consigning hosts Botswana to a worthy silver.
Zimbabwe claimed the bronze medal after second half goals from Prayance Zvawanda and Valeria Padery gave them a 2-0 win over Namibia in the third-place play-off.
The 2019 COSAFA Women’s Under-20 Championship is an eagerly awaited competition that provides players in this age-group with another opportunity to showcase their quality.
Group A looks a very competitive one, with South Africa up against Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Group B contains Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania and Eswatini, and will also be eagerly contested.
The tournament will run concurrently with the senior COSAFA Women’s Championship, that will also be staged in Nelson Mandela Bay from July 31-August 11.