Botswana is one of the six countries that have been given a bye in the preliminary stage of the regional tournament, the Council for Southern African tournament, (COSAFA).
The other five countries are Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. This means Botswana and these other countries will wait for two countries that have to qualify from the group rounds. The six countries were selected according to the current FIFA rankings. The group round will consist of eight countries and only two will make it.
In the group rounds, teams will play on a round robin basis and the top finishers sail through. Eight countries that make the group rounds are Namibia, Malawi, Madagascar, Swaziland, Lesotho, Sychelles, Mauritius and the Comoros. Once the group round is over, eight countries will slug it out in the knockout stages. Knockouts will start from the quarterfinals then through to the semifinals and the finals. The group round will take place on July 17-19 and the knockout stages will be staged from July 25 to August 3rd. All the games will be played in Mpumalanga province.
The group stages will be played in the cities of Secunda and Witbank and the latter rounds would be at Witbank and Thulamahashe. It is not clear who will be sponsoring this year’s venue but the Mpumalanga government will be taking care of the accommodation expenses of the teams.
The COSAFA Secretary General, Ashford Mamelodi, told Sunday Standard that they want to have a group of sponsors for the tournament. He said several companies have shown interest and everything will be unveiled before the tournament starts.
Botswana made a remarkable achievement in the last editions of the tournament. They bowed out in the semifinals, losing to both South Africa and Zambia by solitary goals. On the other hand, before qualifying for the semifinals, Botswana made history by beating countries they had never beaten before.
They knocked out South Africa in 2006 and, last year, it was Angola. How Botswana would fare this year remains a question on the lips of many Batswana. The Zebras are now the subject of debate among many Batswana who are dissatisfied with the team’s performance. Many people are even calling for coach Colywn Rowe to resign. He is being accused of destroying, not building the team for the future.
Since its inception eleven years ago, COSAFA has only been won by four countries which are Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Angola. Zambia, Zimbabwe and Angola have won the tournament three times while South Africa won it twice.