South Africa to learn their fate in this year’s COSAFA Cup
South Africa will learn their fate in this year’s COSAFA Cup when the draw is made for the competition at SAFA House on Wednesday‚ potentially the start of the country’s bid to reach the next Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.
The COSAFA Cup will be staged in the Limpopo province from May 27-June 9 and for the first time in its history and will feature all 14 nations affiliated to the Southern African regional body.
Senior national team coach Stuart Baxter has hinted that he would like to see the event used to help prepare the Under-23 side for the qualification campaign for the Olympics‚ which starts next year and will culminate with the continental Under-23 finals in Egypt.
“COSAFA is not scheduled on FIFA dates but I am going to talk to clubs and coaches and effectively Bafana Bafana will have two squads on the road with the Olympic team in COSAFA. That’s the idea in principle‚” Baxter said last month.
"I am not saying that is exactly what is going to happen but that is our ambition.
"I think we have to think outside the box. In South African football we should include COSAFA as part of preparations for an Olympics.”
As one of six seeded sides‚ South Africa will enter the competition in the quarterfinals that kick-off the second week of the competition.
The first round pool stage will see eight teams split into two groups of four‚ with only the top team in each pool advancing to join the six seeded sides in the quarterfinals.
Defending champions Zimbabwe head the seedings list‚ along with Zambia‚ Lesotho‚ South Africa‚ Namibia and Swaziland.
The next four highest seeds‚ Botswana‚ Madagascar‚ Angola and Mozambique‚ will be in Pot 1 for the first round draw‚ while Mauritius‚ Malawi‚ Seychelles and Comoros Islands will occupy Pot 2.
The COSAFA Cup has been a good breeding ground for South African talent in the past‚ with the likes of Itumleleng Khune‚ Katlego Mphela and Teko Modise‚ among many others‚ having cut their international teeth in the regional showpiece competition.