The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWEAN Under-17 national football teams have been added as late entries at this year’s Region 5 Games Maseru whose draw was conducted in Johannesburg, South Africa on Wednesday.
The tournament is taking place in Lesotho’s capital city from 30 November to 8 December.
According to Cosafa, Zimbabwe were late additions to the boys’ and girls’ events, while Namibia and Comoros also joined the latter tournament after last Friday’s draw ceremony in Maseru.
Cosafa general secretary Sue Destombes said since it is their mandate to develop football in the region so they had to accommodate late entrants.
“Ordinarily we would not have a situation with late entries, but for these particular competitions we feel it is justified given that our mandate is to develop football in the region, and this is a key age-group in that regard.
“For that reason, we have accepted the requests of these countries and welcome then to what we believe will be two fantastic competitions in Maseru,’’ Destombes said.
The entry of Zimbabwe took the number of teams in the boys’ competition up to 11 teams, which necessitated a new draw to accommodate a three-group format.
Hosts Lesotho were seeds in Group A and drawn alongside Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Madagascar, while defending champions South Africa headlined Group B along with Angola, Botswana, and Mauritius. Group C contains three teams, namely Zambia, Malawi, and Seychelles.
Only the top team and the best placed runner-up advance to the semifinals of the competition.
The field for the girls’ competition initially had only four sides, but the addition of three more means it will now be played in a two-group format.
Last year’s losing finalists Zambia are the seeds in Group A, and are joined by Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Comoros.
South Africa headline Group B along with Mauritius and Namibia, with the top two teams in each pool to qualify for the semifinals.
There will be a new champion crowned this year after East African guest nations Uganda and Tanzania won the first two editions of the competition in 2019 and 2020.
Boys’ Under-17 competition
Girls’ Under-17 competition
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