COSAFA Castle Cup reigning champions Brave Warriors have been drawn against the ‘The Zebras’ of Botswana in this year’s COSAFA Cup to be staged in Namibia from June 11-25, following Thursday night’s draw conducted in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Coach Ricardo Mannetti and his charges will begin the defence of their title with a tricky quarterfinal clash against Botswana, while Zambia and South Africa who will also start the competition from the quarterfinals stage will face the winners of Groups A and B.
As host nation and defending champions, Namibia will only be active in the competition from the quarterfinal stages along with other top seeded teams such as Botswana, DR Congo, Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa.
After Thursday night’s draw, Group A consists of Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Seychelles and Madagascar, while Group B features Malawi, Angola, Lesotho and Mauritius.
The first round group stage matches will take up the first week of the tournament from June 11, with just the top team in each pool advancing to the quarterfinals. The championship then continues in a knockout format, with the quarterfinal losers dropping into the Plate competition that was first introduced in 2013 and last year won by Malawi.
Namibia will be hosting the event for the first time and as holders, with Windhoek set to stage the matches across two venues.
The COSAFA Castle Cup was launched in 1997 and very quickly became one of the most exciting competitions on the African soccer calendar.
It has given COSAFA member countries opportunities to increase their international profile and seek further success on other stages, like the African Nations Cup and World Cup.
Zambia and Zimbabwe have each claimed four titles each, with South Africa and Angola three-time winners. Namibia claimed their first championship in the 2015 edition.
2016 COSAFA Castle Cup First Round Draw
A1 – Zimbabwe
A2 – Swaziland
A3 – Seychelles
A4 – Madagascar
B1 – Malawi
B2 – Angola
B3 – Lesotho
B4 – Mauritius
QF1 – South Africa vs Winner Group B
QF2 – Botswana vs Namibia
QF3 – Zambia vs Winner Group A
QF4 – DR Congo vs Mozambique