COSAFA Cup 2018 Beckons

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar June 2, 2018 11:44

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COSAFA Cup 2018 Beckons

By Satish Sekar in Polokwane © Satish Sekar (March 27th 2018)

Under Pressure

For the first time all 14 members of the Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) will contest the COSAFA Castle Cup in Limpopo Province. The tournament will take place in Polokwane. It is the last international tournament to take place before the 21st World Cup in Russia, which will be missing the hosts of this tournament and 2010 World Cup, South Africa.

Having failed to qualify for the World Cup, and also the most recent Africa Cup of Nations, coach Stuart Baxter and the Bafana Bafana are under pressure to deliver another COSAFA Cup triumph, or at least contest the final. Anything less will at least increase the pressure on Baxter, currently in his second spell as South Africa’s boss, or even cost him his job.

He’s not alone in facing pressure. Recently previous winners Zambia parted company with coach Wedson Nyirenda. The Chipolopolo will be under Nkana and former Under-20 coach, Beston Chambeshi, who delivered the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations on home soil last year. Malawi’s coach Ronny van Geneugden plays attacking football but is also under pressure due to a series of bad results.

Restructured

The group stage matches will be played at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium and the Seshego Stadium, the semi-finals, Plate Final, Third-Fourth and Final will be played at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium, literally a stone’s throw from the old stadium. Built for the 2010 World Cup, it is an impressive stadium with a far larger capacity than the other two combined.

The tournament has been structured with two groups of four teams – only the winner progresses to the quarter-final. Group A consists of Mozambique, Madagascar, the Comoros and the Seychelles. Mozambique are the favourites and the team with greatest pedigree in African football. The winners will play South Africa in the quarter-final. Zimbabwe will meet the winners of Group B which consists of Angola, Botswana, Malawi and Mauritius. It appears to be the tougher group on paper.

The final group stages take place at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium and the Seshego. Zambia and Namibia – both teams influenced by the late Zambian coach Ben Bamfuchile – will play the first Quarter-final, followed by Lesotho v Swaziland. The following day South Africa make their bow against the winner of Group A and then Zimbabwe will play the winner of Group B.

All Quarter-finalists are assured of at least another match as on June 5th the losing Quarter-finalists will play a Semi-final Q1 v Q4 and Q2 v Q3 for the right to win the Plate. After that the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium bows out of the COSAFA Castle Cup 2018 with all further matches being played at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium.

The next day the COSAFA Cup Semi-finals take place and after a rest day the Plate Final and Third/Fourth Play-off will played. On June 9th Polokwane will bid farewell to the 2018 edition of the COSAFA Castle Cup.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar June 2, 2018 11:44