Young Warriors withdraw from Cosafa Cup

 

The Young Warriors have withdrawn from the 2018 MOPANI Copper Mines COSAFA Under-20 Championships which are taking place in Kitwe, Zambia.

 

The regional championships were set for lift-off on Sunday to run until 14th December, as 11 teams will compete for the coveted title that was won last year by South Africa.

 

The team cited financial constraints in its decision, a bitter disappointment for the nation which also missed out on the 2016 finals for the same reason.

 

This means that Group B at the tournament will have just three sides, South Africa, Mauritius, and Swaziland, with each team to feature in one less fixture in their pool play.

 

“We are obviously very disappointed following the withdrawal of Namibia, who were our Under-17 winners in 2016 and likely to bring a strong squad to this championship in Zambia. Nevertheless, we still have an exciting field and are looking forward to another excellent tournament in Zambia filled with entertaining football, and the chance for growth and development for the best young players in our region.”

 

“We thank our Zambian hosts and our valued partners in MOPANI Copper Mines for their continued support of Under-20 football in Southern Africa,” said Timothy Shongwe, chairman of COSAFA’s competitions committee.

 

Despite Namibia’s withdrawal, the tournament regulations will remain the same, meaning realistically though that only the top team in Group B will advance to the semifinals.

 

The winners of each pool and the best runner-up go through to the knockout phase, but the latter will in all likelihood only come from Groups A and C.

 

After a disappointing first-round exit on home soil last year, they will be keen to make amends and regain the title they last won two years ago.

Malawi and Mozambique clash in the other fixture in the pool which also serves as the tournament opener.

 

Both teams will know that a positive start is needed if they are to challenge at the top of what is a very tough group.

 

Both have been strong performers in this competition in the past, with Lesotho beaten at finals last year as they went down 2-1 to South African in the decider.