Football: HOLLYWOODBETS Cosafa Cup 2023 |29 May 2023
Seychelles to face defending champions Zambia
The Seychelles senior men’s team were drawn in group B against defending champions Zambia. As if to add more salt into the wounds, Malawi were also drawn in that same group, with Comoros completing the pool.
The draw for the HOLLYWOODBETS Cosafa Cup 2023 that will be staged in Durban, South Africa from July 5 to 16, was conducted after the successful Council of Southern Africa Football Associations Cup (Cosafa) annual general meeting (AGM) held almost at full house, with 12 of the 14 members present.
The Seychelles Football Federation was represented at the AGM and the draw by its vice-president Dolor Ernesta and general secretary and chief executive Denis Rose.
The format for the Cosafa Cup has been revised this year. It will involve only 12 teams from the region divided into three pools of four teams each, instead of the previous format in which there were two groups of four teams and another six sides entered at the quarterfinal stage. There will also be no plate competition this year.
Organisers say the new format ensures each country will play a minimum of three games up to a maximum of five over the course of the competition. It also allows for an extra day’s rest between most pool games, a boost for player welfare.
The pool games in Durban will be played from July 5 to 12, with the semifinals on July 14 and the final and third-place play-off to be staged at the King Zwelithini Stadium two days later.
The draw for this year’s competition started with the seeding of South Africa as hosts at the top of group A, defending champions Zambia in group B and the highest Confederation of African Football (Caf) ranked team in the zone Mozambique in group C.
South Africa were joined by Namibia, Eswatini and Botswana in group A which has been declared as the group of death. Namibia were last year’s runners up where they lost to Zambia while Eswatini and Botswana were finalists in 2016 and 2019.
Even if defending champions Zambia might not have much of a torrid time against Seychelles and Comoros in group B, they will definitely have a tough road to the semifinals with Malawi also in that same group.
Angola, Mauritius and Lesotho were drawn with Mozambique in group C which is also expected to be a hard-fought pool.
The top team in each pool will advance to the semifinals along with the best-placed runners-up, meaning there is little margin for error.
Probably the only good news for Seychelles is that their first match will be against the Comoros and a positive result will keep alive their hopes of progressing to the semifinal of this competition for the first time.
However, as pointed out by national team manager Michael Delpech, this format is one of the toughest, giving little chance to lower ranking teams in the group.
“With this format, teams finishing second in the groups will not be guaranteed qualification. Only the best-placed runners-up from all three groups will qualify, making it even more difficult,” he explained.
Despite it being tough, Seychelles were looking forward for the competition, he said, as it also formed part of their preparation for the Indian Ocean Islands Games (IOIG) to be held in Madagascar later this year.
It will also give the Seychelles technical team a chance to assess the performance of Comoros and Mauritius who might be their opponents at the IOIG.
This year’s competition will be the 22nd Cosafa Cup, but only five nations can claim to have lifted the coveted trophy during the past 21 editions.
Zimbabwe and Zambia are locked together on six wins each, with South Africa (five), Angola (three) and Namibia (one).
Mozambique, Malawi, and Botswana have all been finalists twice, but ended up on the losing side on both occasions. Lesotho (2000) are the only other Cosafa team to reach the decider, with Senegal the first guest nation to do so in 2021.
Before Friday’s draw Cosafa announced HOLLYWOODBETS as the title sponsor of the Cosafa Cup, as well as the upcoming 2023 Cosafa Women’s Championship and 2023 Cosafa Women’s Champions League.
Cosafa also announced a second partnership with JOMA SA, who have come on board as a technical supplier, a first for Cosafa.
They will be known as the official technical supplier to Cosafa for all its competitions. Cosafa will also be the exclusive distributor of JOMA SA football products in the South African region.