COSAFA U/17 Champs to qualify for CAF finals next year

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The Baby Warriors will only have to go and compete for regional title in Mauritius next month but also have to fight for a place at next year’s continental under 17 finals as the 2018 COSAFA Under-17 Championships winners will qualify for the finals to be staged in Tanzania in 2019.

Namibia, winners in 2016, are preparing to go and compete at the 2018 Cosafa Under-17 Championships to be held in Mauritius from 19 to 29 July and Cosafa in February announced that the winners of the COSAFA U/17 tournament will qualify for the final tournament for the continental championships to be hosted by Tanzania in May 2019.

Paul Shakes Malembu, who this week worked with 26 players, will face the host Mauritius in Group A, as well ass Botswana and the Seychelles with the group winner advancing to the semifinals while the runner up, determined first by the number of points obtained, advance from the group stages to the semifinals.

It is the third year in a row that Mauritius has acted as hosts, and for local fans, it will be an opportunity first-hand to see the brightest young talents from the region on display. The draw for the finals was made at the recent COSAFA Cup senior men’s competition in South Africa and has produced three intriguing groups.

Group B promises to be a hard-fought won with defending champions Zambia up against regional powerhouse rivals South Africa, Mozambique and Lesotho. Group C also has an unpredictable air about it as Zimbabwe face-off against Angola, Malawi and Swaziland.

Matches will be played at the Auguste Vollaire Stadium in Flacq and St Francois Xavier Stadium in the Mauritian capital of Port Louis and Namibia and Seychelles will open the tournament on July 19 in Port Louis, with the pool stage to continue every day until July 25.

A regional Under-17 championship has been played in various guises since the first in 1994 that was won by South Africa on home soil with a 2-1 victory over Mozambique in the final. Malawi claimed the title in 2001 as they beat hosts South Africa 3-0, before a year later; the latter regained the trophy after finishing top of a mini-group of teams.

Namibia claimed what was seen as an unlikely triumph in 2016, before Zambia took the trophy home last year. Matches will be broadcast on Kwese Sports (www.kwese.com)