Cosafa Challenge causes stir

Richard Nkosi

Richard Nkosi

All three Mpumalanga Safa regions will get a chance to host some of the matches during the coming Cosafa Senior Challenge that will get under way from July 17 to August 5 in the province.

The tournament will feature 14 countries.

Amabinneplaas, the South African national development soccer side comprising locally-based players, will represent the country.

Bafana Bafana won the tournament in Bloemfontein last year after defeating Zambia in the final of the first edition sponsored by Castle Lager.

Sam Msimango, Safa Mpumalanga provincial executive committee president, said preparations are at an advanced stage and they hope to make it one of the greatest tournaments ever.

"Though I'm not sitting on the committee that does the planning, I have received information that preparations are going well," he said.

"All the three regions' [Enkangala, Ehlanzeni and Gert Sibande] Safa committees along with the Mpumalanga department of culture, sports and recreation and the Mpumalanga 2010 office are part of the committee arranging the tournament," he said.

Msimango said it was now up to the people of the province to stand up and show passion for football by attending the games in huge numbers as we get closer to the 2010 World Cup.

"The games will be played in Bushbuckridge [Ehlanzeni], Embalenhle [Gert Sibande] and Atlantic [Enkangala] stadiums. We want to give each region a chance to host some of the games. It will be the first time the province hosts senior national teams," he said.

Having successfully hosted the Cosafa Under-20 youth championship, Mpumalanga would be looking to build on that foundation.

The tournament will also give the 2010 office a chance to test its readiness to host 2010 World Cup games as the Nelspruit's Mbombela Stadium will be one of the host venues.