WINDHOEK – Namibia’s Under-17 football side, Baby Warriors, will not only be out to compete at this year’s COSAFA U-17 Cup, but will also have to fight for a place at next year’s Africa’s U-17 Championships, as winners of this year’s COSAFA Cup will automatically qualify.
This year’s COSAFA U-17 Cup takes place in Mauritius from July 19-29, while the African U-17 Championships is slated for Tanzania next year.
Namibia, winners of the 2016 edition of the COSAFA U-17 Cup, are well prepared to compete and leave their mark at the regional youth tournament.
Paul Shakes Malembu, who has been working with 26 players, will face the host Mauritius in Group A, Botswana and Seychelles, with the group winner advancing to the semifinals while the runner up, determined first by the number of points obtained, also advance 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 edition 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, but a year later; the latter regained the trophy. Namibia claimed what was seen as an unlikely triumph in 2016, before Zambia took the trophy home last year.