Southern Times Writer
Tshwane – Does South Africa have what it takes to retain the 2021 Cosafa Women’s Championship?
This is the big question as national teams prepare for the regional football showcase that runs from September 28 to October 9 in South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Bay.
In last year’s final, Banyana Banyana – as the South African team is affectionately known – lifted the trophy after battling hard to secure a 2–1 win over Botswana in a closely fought final. That memorable victory secured a fourth straight title for South Africa.
However, 2020 finalists Botswana, as well as Zambia, Angola and Zimbabwe will be eager to break South Africa’s stranglehold on the trophy.
Zimbabwe have always proved dangerous, and their attacking brand of football saw them produce the top scorers in two previous championships: Rufaro Machingura (8 goals in 2011) and Rutendo Makore (10 goals in 2017).
And the regional heavyweights know that anything can happen in cup football – more so when unpredictable sides like eSwatini, Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia, in addition to guest teams Tanzania, Uganda and South Sudan, are also in the mix.
All teams will be try to avoid early elimination so that they get more games under their belts ahead of the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers, which start nine days after Cosafa Women’s Championship.
The Cosafa tourney begins with a Group A meeting between Angola and Mozambique on September 28, before Banyana open their account with a clash against the Flames of Malawi.
The Group B matches, which commence the following day, will see Botswana clashing with South Sudan before Tanzania face Zimbabwe. Namibia and Uganda clash in the first Group C encounter on September 30, and Zambia take on eSwatini in the second match.
The group stage concludes on October 5 with the top team in each pool advancing to the October 7 semi-finals, along with the overall best-placed runner-up.
The final and third place play-off will be played on October 9.
Cosafa media manager Lynda Greef told The Southern Times Sport that all matches would be held within the parameters of COVID-19 protocols.
“Under the guidance and management of our doctor, Thulani Ngwenya, we have successfully staged 6 tournaments since October 2021 last year following the abovementioned protocols,” she added.