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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

COSAFA Cup Preview – A quick guide to the 2018 COSAFA Cup teams

Lesotho will be one of 14 nations gunning for COSAFA Cup glory

All 14 member nations of COSAFA will compete at the 2018 COSAFA Cup in South Africa’s Limpopo province from May 27 to June 9. It will be the first time all members of COSAFA take part in the regional showpiece.

Zimbabwe will return as defending champions and will again be among the favourites to lift the trophy.

Here is a quick guide to the teams that will take part in this year’s tournament.

All-time record:
P          W        D         L         GF      GA
40        9          12        19        38        54
Lesotho made the semi-finals last year where they were ousted in a thrilling 4-3 defeat to eventual champions Zimbabwe. Likuena were also runners-up to Zimbabwe in the 2000 edition of the southern African championship and have always been a difficult opponent.

P          W        D         L         GF      GA
40        16        13        11        39        34
Angola are three-time winners of the COSAFA Cup but have not tasted success since 2004. In recent years they have opted to bring very young squads to the tournament as they use it to blood fresh talent for the World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations Cup qualifiers. They have qualified for the World Cup once before, in 2006, with their victory in the 2004 COSAFA Cup going some way to shaping that team.

P          W        D         L         GF      GA
35        6          13        16        24        40
Botswana has been finalists as recently as 2016, where they lost 3-2 to South Africa’s Olympics-bound squad, but disappointed last year when they were eliminated by the same opposition in the Plate semi-finals. They also made the semi-finals in 2007, losing once again to the South Africans. The side is coached by veteran tactician David Bright.

Comoros Islands
P          W        D         L         GF      GA
6          1          1          5          2          8
Comoros Islands return for their first COSAFA Cup since 2009 and for what will be only their third tournament over all. Their lone previous victory came against the Seychelles nine years ago, while they failed to score in any of their five other matches. The side is vastly improved since then though, as they have shown in recent continental qualifiers.

P          W        D         L         GF      GA
28        12        6          10        34        30
Madagascar were ousted in the first round in 2017 despite taking seven points from their nine available, undone on goal-difference by eventual winners Zimbabwe. Their recent form has been excellent, with just two defeats in their last 12 COSAFA Cup matches, proving they will be no pushovers this year.
The 2018 COSAFA Cup will get underway on May 27...
P          W        D         L         GF      GA
43        12        12        19        40        54
Malawi have not perhaps lived up to their rich potential in recent times and are scoreless in their last four COSAFA Cup matches. They picked up just two points in 2017 and will hope for much better this time round under Belgian coach Ronny Van Geneugden. Malawi have been runners-up in two COSAFA Cup competitions, reaching the final for the first time in 2002 and then making the decider again the following year.

P          W        D         L         GF      GA
29        6          5          18        21        46
Mauritius have perhaps not performed how they might have hoped in recent tournaments, and last year bowed out in the first round with two points. They caused arguably the biggest upset in COSAFA Cup history in 2004 when they beat South Africa, who had a full-strength team headed to the African Nations Cup finals in Tunisia, in the first round in Curepipe. But Club M are still seeking to get past the quarterfinal stage of the Southern African championship.

P          W        D         L         GF      GA
39        13        8          18        40        55
Mozambique suffered to surprise, heavy defeats last year to Zimbabwe (0-4) and Madagascar (1-4) and will be hoping for much better this time round. They are led by flamboyant coach Abel Xavier, in his third COSAFA Cup tournament. Mozambique were semi-finalists in the 2004 and 2008 COSAFA Cup tournaments, and then went one better in 2015 when they lost 2-0 in the final to Namibia.

P          W        D         L         GF      GA
47        17        16        14        62        50
Namibia were COSAFA Cup winners in 2015, won the Plate competition in 2016 and reached the final of the Plate again last year before losing to South Africa. Their trilling run to the major trophy three years ago was a huge personal triumph for coach Ricardo Mannetti, who remains in charge. They also made the final in 1999, but narrowly lost to Angola in extra-time in the second leg in Windhoek.

P          W        D         L         GF      GA
22        1          3          18        14        51
Seychelles have just a single victory in 22 COSAFA Cup games, but that was a handsome 7-0 success over Mauritius in 2008 that remains the largest ever winning margin in the history of the tournament. Since they have battled, managing to score in only two of their previous 12 games and conceding 32 goals in that time.

South Africa
P          W        D         L         GF      GA
41        22        12        7          54        24
Four-time winners South Africa last tasted COSAFA Cup success in 2016, but have disappointed in recent tournaments, going out at the quarterfinal stage in two of the last three. South Africa are one of only two COSAFA member countries to have won the African Nations Cup title, doing so on home soil at their first attempt in 1996. Zambia joined them with their 2012 success.
The final will be on June 9...
P          W        D         L         GF      GA
39        14        10        15        38        47
Swaziland had a thrilling run in the 2016 COSAFA Cup when they claimed the bronze medal and have always been a difficult opponent at the tournament. They have reached the semi-finals of the COSAFA Cup on four occasions, proving their potential for upset results, but have yet to make that major leap into a final.

P          W        D         L         GF      GA
51        27        17        8          76        35
Zambia are four-time winners of the COSAFA Cup but have been to nine finals in all, including last year when they were beaten 3-1 by Zimbabwe. Their previous title was in 2013 on home soil and they remain a real power of the region. Zambia won both first two editions of the COSAFA Cup in 1997 and 1998, but it took until 2006 for them to claim their third regional title. 

P          W        D         L         GF      GA
54        36        11        7          98        39
Zimbabwe are the most successful nation in the history of the COSAFA Cup, winning their fifth title in 2017. They have played the most matches, managed the most wins and scored the most goals to cement their place on the top of the pile. They have suffered disappointment too though with three runner-up finishes.

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