Could a Cosafa Champions League be the next best thing after the senior challenge?
The Cosafa Cup has come and gone with Zambia, the host beating holders, Zimbabwe 2-0 in the final in Lusaka on Saturday.
Zambia cemented their status as a re-emerging giant of football in the Sadc Region and Cosafa football region.
Zimbabwe may feel hard done by the score line against their hard work, determination and better ball possession and dominance in the final.
Unfortunately, for them it is goals that count and not excellent display of football as well as the football share percentage.
However, Zimbabwe’s display and that of many other nations who fell by the wayside as the tournament progressed, is a clear indication of what the tournament organisers and sponsor had aimed to achieve.
It was about grit, determination, hunger for success and national pride in football.
All of that was packaged for soccer fans during the two-week tournament.
The return of the Cosafa Cup after a few years in hiatus should be an appreciated gesture for which the sponsors and organisers should be thanked.
The tournament has left the region with fond memories of 14 countries that have huge potential for the future of football. The Cosafa Cup has reignited the passion the region has been known for and which was exemplified by the exuberant display of support by Zambian football supporters who packed every stadium and shouted for every team throughout the two week event.
With the resurrection of the Cosafa Cup, a few blocks have been built on the foundations of regional football. It may be remembered that it was during the time of the Cosafa Cup in the late 1990s and early 2000s when the southern region had more representation at the African Cup of Nations Tournaments.
It will also be recalled that it was during that period when many talented players in the region joined overseas’ clubs to play professional football.
That was what Cosafa has been able to do with the Senior Challenge Cup.
The regional football confederation now needs to build on its new found success and increase the opportunities for footballers to improve their skills on the pitch.
The leaders of regional football could consider something like a Cosafa Champions League where two or three clubs from each country play in a competition for league winners, similar to the European and African Champions Leagues.
It is no secret that the African Champions’ League has been frowned upon by southern African clubs for not only being an expensive undertaking but one that is also deemed to be one tainted by corruption and mistreatment of clubs by smaller countries by the darlings of those that rule continental football.
Cosafa will do itself and the region a favour if it considers a Cosafa Champions League which will be much cheaper to provide players opportunities to play regular international club football and measure themselves against their opponents in the region.
A Cosafa Champions League could be the forerunner of a revamped African Champions League which, instead of forcing clubs to spend a lot of money traveling to far away countries, could be fashioned into a competition of regional winners. That will mean the clubs will have an opportunity to play as many games at minimal cost in the region and the victorious ones will represent their regions in the wider African Champions League. It’s just a loud thought, but one that can transform people’s thinking of African club football.
Clubs could benefit greatly as the domestic leagues will be more competitive and in addition, the attraction of fans back to the stadium could also lure back the sponsors.
This should be food for thought for the Namibian Football Association and their counterparts in the region.