THE 12 nations that will compete in the 2017 Cosafa Under-20 Championships to be staged in Zambia from December 6-16 have been confirmed with two exciting guest teams set to light up the regional showpiece.
North African powerhouse Egypt will be sending their crop of youngsters along with East African side Uganda, who have made great strides in senior football in the last few years.
There will be defending champions and hosts Zambia in the first round, along with six-time winners Zimbabwe and last year’s finalists South Africa. Angola, who have never lifted the trophy despite playing in four finals, have confirmed their entrance too, alongside Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland.
It will make for a field of contrasting styles that will be compelling viewing for fans.
Zambia are also the African champions having lifted that trophy earlier this year, and excelled at the Fifa Under-20 World Cup in South Korea where they reached the quarter-finals before an unlucky 3-2 extra-time loss to Italy.
Egypt have reached the global showpiece on eight previous occasions and are also four-time continental winners, the last time they lifted the trophy being in 2013. Uganda have twice played in the African Under-20 Championship, though not since 1987, but their senior team made a return to the African Nations Cup this year after an absence of 40 years.
The draw for the first round group stages was held this week with the 12 teams placed in three pool each containing four sides.
The group winners will then advance to the semi-finals alongside the best runners-up, the same format that was used for the successful Cosafa Women’s Championship that was held in September.
The matches will be played at two venues in Kitwe, the Arthur Davies Stadium and Nkana Stadium.
The final match will be played at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.
The 12 nations to compete at the 2017 COSAFA Under-20 Championships: