By Carlos Kambaekwa
It’s official, Namibia is to host the maiden edition of the Confederation of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) Under-17 Competition.
The week-long 10-nation tourney was launched at Soccer House in Windhoek yesterday, and the cream of aspiring footballers from the Southern Hemisphere are to converge in the capital when the curtain opens on the 8th of next month.
Hosts Namibia, South Africa and Zambia are seeded according to their latest FIFA rankings with Namibia pitted in Group C alongside Angola, Zimbabwe and Swaziland, while South Africa is drawn in a relatively easy Group A comprising of minnows Lesotho and Mauritius.
Regional powerhouse Zambia leads the charge in Group B with Malawi and Botswana completing Pool B in what could be easily described as the “Group of Death”.
The winners from the three groups will be joined by the second best placed nation in the semi-finals.
Despite the last-minute withdrawal of Madagascar, the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) Mabos Vries believes Namibia possesses the capacity to stage a successful competition and urged local business enterprises to come on board as corporate sponsors.
The Secretary General of COSAFA Ashford Mamelodi emphasized the importance of youth football and said football’s supreme body on the continent, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) was fully behind the initiative of promoting the game of football at grassroots.
“The only option to steer Southern African football on par with the rest of the continent is to have regular tournaments at all youth levels and CAF have also set aside an amount N$167 000 for the COSAFA Women’s tournament to be held in Angola next year,” boasted the bulky Botswana national.
Pay television Supersport are the official sponsors of the competition with a handsome donation of N$500 000, while CAF have also pledged an amount of N$167 000 towards the hosting of the tournament.
All matches will alternate between the Sam Nujoma and Khomasdal stadiums and admission is free.