The 2019 COSAFA Cup will be staged in the South African coastal city of Durban from May 25-June 8, serving as vital preparation for the region’s Africa Cup of Nations-bound sides.
The prestigious regional tournament will be hosted in partnership with the South African Football Association and the eThekwini Municipality, with venues around the city to enrich the 14-team competition.
Durban is a world-class sporting hub that was a major centre during the 2010 FIFA World Cup and combines top sporting facilities with excellent transport infrastructure, having played host to numerous domestic cup finals in recent years.
Angola, Madagascar, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe are all teams that will be heading to the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt from June 21-July 19, and so will be able to use the COSAFA Cup to camp and play in high-quality competitive internationals just weeks before the continental showpiece.
“We are delighted to host what we believe will be the best ever COSAFA Cup in Durban, a city steeped in sporting history with the most magnificent facilities,” says COSAFA President Dr Phillip Chiyangwa.
“Apart from the prestige of being crowned regional champions, there is also much more for competing teams to play for this year, with not only the Africa Cup of Nations finals Egypt, but also the 2020 African Nations Championship qualifiers in July and August.
“At COSAFA we pride ourselves in the opportunities we give our nations to compete at the highest level, and to help develop our teams for continental action. “We extend our warmest thanks to SAFA and the eThekwini Municipality for partnering with us on this event and we are sure that all the teams will derive great benefit from their stay in South Africa.”
The semi-final and final of the tournament will be played at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, with King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi and the Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu to be used earlier in the competition.
The Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium and Chatsworth Stadium will be training venues for the teams.
The eThekwini Municipality has been a major ‘player’ in the hosting of football events in South Africa for a number of years, with its flagship and iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium one of the jewels among the country’s impressive array of stadia.
eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede expressed her enthusiasm at the opportunity given to the City to host this prestigious tournament.
“Durban is known as Africa’s playground and we have proven this over and over again through the many successful international sports tournaments that we have hosted,” Gumede said.
“We have world-class sporting facilities, including our iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium, which makes it easy for us to accommodate tournaments of international standard. We have warm and friendly weather all year round and our citizens are sports-lovers of note.
“I am certain that they will fill-up all the stadia to support their favourite teams and create that exciting and jubilant vibe. We look forward to hosting the games.”
SAFA President Dr Danny Jordaan thanked Mayor Gumede and her municipality for stepping in to host the tournament, saying it proved Durban’s readiness to stage world-class events at short notice.
“We are very grateful to the eThekwini Municipality and Mayor Gumede,” Dr Jordaan said. “By accepting to host the upcoming COSAFA Cup tournament, eThekwini has once again shown that it is a municipality whose agenda is to live the masses’ goals.
“Football is by the far the biggest sporting code in the country and the world at large, and by embracing the sport in all forms, it goes to show how you always embrace the football legacy.
“The fact that you took over this tournament at the last minute will endear you with, not only the football masses of South Africa but the entire COSAFA region.
“I am lost for words to describe how much the South African Football Association (SAFA) feel indebted to you and appreciate your valued friendship and support. You are a true, treasured partner.”
The draw for the first-round group stage of the 2019 COSAFA Cup is likely to be held in the first week of May with the format of the competition unchanged from previous years.
It will once again feature 14 sides, with the lowest ranked eight split into two first round pools each containing four sides. The winners of those pools will advance to the quarterfinals, where they will join the six higher ranked teams in a straight knockout format.
The four losing teams in the quarterfinals will drop into the Plate competition to ensure they continue to get competitive fixtures.
Zimbabwe will be the defending champions in 2019 having won the last of their record six titles in Polokwane 12 months ago when they edged Zambia 4-2 in a thrilling final.
Zambia and South Africa have four wins each, with Angola (three wins) and Namibia also previously gold medallists.
The 2019 COSAFA Cup will be the first of six tournaments scheduled to be hosted by the regional body this year.
Others includes the COSAFA Women’s Championship in Port Elizabeth, South Africa (July 31-August 11), which will run concurrently with the COSAFA Under-20 Women’s Championship at the same venue (August 1-11).
There will also be a COSAFA Under-17 Women’s Championship in Mauritius (September 13-22) followed by a boys’ competition in the Under-17 age-group in Malawi (September 26-October 5).
The final competition will be the COSAFA Under-20 Championship for men in Zambia from December 4-15.
(Credit: Cosafa Media)