Baby Warriors are expected to play against Seychelles in the opening match of the COSAFA Under-17 Championship currently under way in Mauritius today (Thursday).
This year’s regional tournament has added significance as it serves as a qualifier for the 2019 African Under-17 Championships which in turn will supply the continent’s four representatives at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Peru next year.
The COSAFA event which runs from July 19-29, will be the beginning of the road to the global showpiece for the 12 competing teams from the region who all have set their sights on winning a place on the big stage.
The competition will be played at two venues in Mauritius, the St. François Xavier Stadium in Port Louis and Stade Anjalay in Belle Vue.
There will be three matches on the opening day on all in Port Louis, starting with a Group A clash between 2016 winners Namibia and the Seychelles at 10h00 (06h00 GMT).
Namibia returned after missing last year’s competition having surprised many to take the title two years’ ago, and will be fierce competitors once more under coach Paul Malembu.
The current holders, Zambia will open their 2018 campaign with a tricky Group B tie against Mozambique, who narrowly missed out on the semi-finals last year on goal-difference. The match will kick-off at 12h30 (08h30 GMT).
Zambia are arguably the pre-tournament favorites having always provided a competitive edge at all age-group levels in the COSAFA region.
Host Mauritius who were beaten finalists last year, begin their bid for the title with a Group A clash against Botswana in the final game of the day at 15h30 (11h30 GMT).
Only the top side in each group as well as the best-placed runner-up will advance to the semi-finals.