Cosafa Cup celebrates 20th edition

HARARE - The Cosafa Castle Cup will be celebrating its 20th anniversary when the tournament is held in South Africa’s North West province from June 25 to July 9.

Just like in the previous two editions, Zimbabwe will have to start the tournament in the preliminary stages after the Warriors were drawn in Group B of the qualifiers together with Mozambique, Madagascar and Seychelles.

Cosafa president Philip Chiyangwa said the tournament is an integral part of the development of the southern African region as it has helped unearth a number of stars.

“The Cosafa Castle Cup is our flagship tournament and an opportunity for the southern African region to come together in a celebration of excellence and our continued growth as a football region,” Chiyangwa, who is also the Zifa president, said after the draw was held in South Africa.

“The number of players who have emerged through the Cosafa Castle Cup over the past two decades highlight its importance, while it also provides many countries in our region with top-class competitive football at a time when their calendars have otherwise been empty.”

First played in 1997, the regional championship has helped to develop some of the greatest names to emerge from southern Africa in the last two decades, including the likes of Zambia’s Chris Katongo, Zimbabwe’s Benjani Mwaruwari and Botswana’s Dipsy Selolwane.

This year will see 13 of the 14 Cosafa nations present in South Africa, with only Comoros Islands withdrawing their participation.

They will be replaced by East African guest nation Tanzania, who return for a third shot at glory after previously competing in 1997 and 2015.

Cosafa’s Competitions Committee head Timothy Shongwe said: “We are delighted to welcome Tanzania once again and look forward to the East African flair they bring to the competition. It is all systems go for the Cosafa Castle Cup and we look forward to hosting the tournament in the world-class facilities that South Africa’s North West province has to offer.

“We hosted a hugely successful tournament there in 2015, and we look forward to an even better showing this year.”

Castle Lager, who have been a valued sponsor of the tournament through the years, and who were involved in the inaugural event in 1997, will once again lend their support to the regional showpiece.

“Castle Lager is delighted to return as title sponsor of the Cosafa Castle Cup up to 2020. This year in particular is quite special as it is the 20th edition of this illustrious tournament. We see this special tournament as being pivotal in the development and growth of football in the southern Africa region,” brand director: Castle Lager Africa Vaughan Croeser said.

“The Cosafa Castle Cup offers us the opportunity to come together as friends to support and raise the level of southern African football. Last year, we started our journey to unify the brand positioning across the continent under the banner of ‘It all comes together with a Castle’. The Cosafa Castle Cup allows us to show consumers the true meaning of what is possible when friends come together.

South Africa are the defending Cosafa Castle Cup champions after they lifted the trophy with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Botswana in the final in Windhoek, Namibia, in 2016.

That was a record-equalling fourth title for Bafana Bafana, who join Zambia and Zimbabwe at the top of the all-time winners list.

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