HARARE - It's not just the usual fireworks which have always characterised the women's COSAFA tournament since its inauguration in 2002 which are expected at the Nelson Mandela Bay this year.
It's a unique and worthy edition no other tournament has seen.
Besides its increasing appeal, the COSAFA women’s contest will this year run concurrently with the inaugural instalment of the women’s Under 20 fiesta.
A first for COSAFA.
The seniors kicked off theirs on 31 July, with the juniors starting a day later.
Both curtains come down on August 11.
The girl child is battling for the control of the region and more.
For the quintet of Zimbabwe, defending champions South Africa, Malawi, Botswana and Zambia senior teams, the COSAFA tournament has come at the right time.
All of them will try to use this fiesta to fine-tune their teams for the 2020 Olympics qualifiers which are on just after the COSAFA tournament.
Next year’s edition of the quadrennial world’s biggest sporting extravaganza will be held in Tokyo, Japan, with only one African team guaranteed a place in the Asian country.
The second best placed team in the qualifiers will have to face-off with a South American opponent in a play-off to determine who goes to Japan.
And the COSAFA tournament is expected to help the quintet rectify possible problematic areas before plunging into the Olympic Games qualifiers.
Interestingly, South Africa will face Botswana while Zimbabwe and Zambia will renew their great rivalry in the first stages of the qualifiers just after the regional tournament.
There is a possibility that all of these teams would have played against each other at the annual COSAFA tournament.
Besides the five senior teams who will be contesting for the Olympic place after the COSAFA tournament, two of the Under-20 teams, South Africa and Zambia, are also bound to play in the All Africa Games in Morocco.
The two have already sealed their berths for the continental competition.
Both will be taking this tournament as a platform to organise themselves before heading north.
The last edition of the senior women’s competition was held in Botswana in 2018, with South Africa beating the hosts in the final.
Zimbabwe’s Mighty Warriors utility player Talent Mandaza believes her team will this time around get it right.
“We are preparing well for the tournament. The last time out, we lost to South Africa as they did well. We are, however, trying to work on our weaknesses going into this one,” said Mandaza.