African Soccer 30.8.2018 12:02 pm

Banyana’s Cosafa Cup opponents revealed

Chantelle Esau of South Africa celebrates with teammates  during the COSAFA Women Championships football match between South Africa and Botswana at Luveve Stadium. (Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix)

Chantelle Esau of South Africa celebrates with teammates during the COSAFA Women Championships football match between South Africa and Botswana at Luveve Stadium. (Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix)

Hosts and defending champions South Africa have been drawn against Botswana, Madagascar and Malawi in the 2018 Cosafa Women’s Championship.

Hosts and defending champions South Africa have been drawn against Botswana, Madagascar and Malawi in the 2018 Cosafa Women’s Championship.

The tournament will be played in Nelson Mandela Bay, from September 12 to 22.

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis is also priming her squad for the African Women’s Championship and selected a full-strength squad that includes all of her major overseas-based stars.
She is taking nothing for granted, though, and knows respect must be given to all of their opponents.

“People might look at this and think it is an easy group, but nothing is easy in this game,” said Ellis.

“Botswana gave us a good run last year [in a 1-1 draw], so we know what we are up against.”

African powerhouses Zambia and Cameroon have been drawn together in Group B.

The draw pits the duo, who have both qualified for the 2018 African Women’s Championship later this year, against one another.

They will also face Lesotho and Mozambique in their pool, which will serve as excellent preparation for the continental finals.

Group C contains 2011 winners and last year’s runners-up Zimbabwe, along with Swaziland, Namibia and East African guest nation Uganda.

“It is such a good opportunity for us to be invited to the Cosafa Women’s Championship and we will do our best to improve our game,” said Uganda coach Faridah Bulega.

“It is our first time and we know there are many strong teams in the field, but we will do our best and any positive results that come our way we will truly appreciate.

“It is a difficult draw for us, but any of the 11 teams we could have got would have presented a challenge.”

The top team in each pool will advance to the semi-finals along with the best-placed runners-up.

There will be two stadiums used during the event, the 10,000-seater Wolfson Stadium and 3,000-seater Gelvandale Stadium.

The first Cosafa Women’s Championship was held in Zimbabwe in 2002 and was won by South Africa, who beat their hosts 2-1 in the final.

Four years later and the South Africans triumphed again at the finals in Zambia when they beat Namibia 3-1 in the decider. South Africa then made it three in a row when they beat Zimbabwe in the finals of the 2008 tournament in Malange, Angola.

Zimbabwe then claimed the title in 2011, when they also acted as hosts, defeating South Africa 1-0 in the final.

Banyana Banyana got their revenge in Bulawayo 12 months ago, though, as they ran out 2-1 winners – their fourth trophy win in just five events.

2018 Cosafa Women’s Championship draw:

Group A: South Africa, Botswana, Madagascar, Malawi
Group B: Zambia, Cameroon, Lesotho, Mozambique
Group C: Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Namibia, Uganda

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