Southern Times Writer
Tshwane – The Cosafa Men’s Under-20 Championship – which has become a permanent feature on the Southern African football calendar – has also been a stepping stone for many players who have gone on to become household names in their country or beyond.
Some of the tournament’s leading scorers and star players have become vital cogs for their senior national teams – a development that suggests the showcase is fulfilling one of its mandates of developing the sport at youth level in the region.
With the 2021 Championships set to be staged in Eswatini from December 10-18, The Southern Times examines how the careers of the tournament’s top scorers since 2016 have fared and whether or not the players were able to build on the foundation of making their mark on the international stage.
South Africa’s attack-minded player Luther Singh – who led the scoring charts in the 2016 tournament with 5 goals to his name – has gone on to prove that his standout performance was not a flash in the pan.
Although his goals failed to help South Africa to win the title, Singh is now not only an established player in the Bafana Bafana outfit but is also making waves on the European global stage.
After his exceptional performance in the 2016 championship, Singh – who was then turning out for Swedish second tier side GAIS – moved to Sporting Braga in the Portuguese topflight league.
While he could not break into the first team of the side, Singh had successful loan spells at topflight sides Chaves, Moreirense as well as Pacos de Ferreira.
Now on the books of Danish premier league side FC Copenhagen, Singh has played a key role in his team’s quest for glory in European club competitions.
Uganda’s Muhammad Shaban became the toast of the 2017 edition of the championships – from a goal scoring perspective – after he managed to rattle the back of the net four times.
Now a full international with Uganda, Shaban turned out for North African giants Raja Casablanca in the 2018/2019 season. He is currently on the books of Ugandan outfit Onduparaka.
Lyle Foster from South Africa and Delic Murimba from Zimbabwe – who were joint top scorers with 5 goals each in the 2018 championships – have experienced mixed fortunes since then.
Foster, another star on the rise, is currently on the books of Portuguese outfit Vitoria Guimaraes after joining them from French League 1 side Monaco.
The South African has been loaned out to Westerlo in the Belgian second tier for the 2021/22 season and is regarded among the emerging crop of young players in the Bafana Bafana side.
Murimba – on the other hand – is yet to make a breakthrough on the international stage. He is still in Zimbabwe where he has played for Triangle United and Bulawayo Chiefs. He has had trials with South African side Mamelodi Sundowns and has also attracted attention from clubs in China.
The 6 goals scored by Angola’s Ambrosini Salvador in 2019 are a championship record that attracted the attention of Brazilian Gremio.
However “Zinni” – as the player is affectionately referred to – eventually remained on the books of current Angolan club Primeiro, who placed a US$55 million release clause on the contract of the 19-year-old star.
The Cosafa Under-20 Championships have certainly been a stepping stone for Salvador, who proved his worth for the Angolan senior national team by scoring against Libya in a recent 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifier.
Salvador continued his impressive performance in the 2020 championships and was joint top scorer together with Sinenjongo Mkiva of South Africa.
The two players managed 3 goals each in a low-scoring tournament. Mkiva, who is on the books of DSTV Premiership side SuperSport United, is another young player widely tipped for a successful career.