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Cosafa: All hail Castle!

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THE Cosafa 2013 roadshow rolled into the capital yesterday with a pledge from returning sponsors — Castle Lager — of their intended long stay in the game to help in its development.

Report by Wellington Toni

The 2013 edition will be held in Zambia between July 6 and 21.

Speaking at the launch of the roadshow and draw in Harare yesterday, Castle Brand Development Manager (Africa) Jongamazizi Sibanca said his organisation was delighted to be back with the tournament they sponsored between 1997 and 2007.

The last edition in 2009 was won by Zimbabwe, who will go into the competition alongside Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South
Africa, Swaziland and Zambia. These countries will be joined by Cecafa members Tanzania and Kenya.

“We are delighted to be back and back for better. The development of the game in the region is our priority and we hope our sponsorship will go a long way in developing the game,” he said.

Hosts of yesterday’s function Delta Beverages, represented by marketing manager Patricia Murambinda, said it was their hope that the image of the competition would change this year.

“We are proud to be part of this historical occasion today and do promise that the Castle Lager branding will certainly change the image of the Cosafa Cup this year. Football has
made a mark on the lives of thousands of footballers throughout Zimbabwe over the years and we are proud to be associated with this event that is an important investment in our
country.

“Our objective is to capture all football fans enticing them to come and watch live games, share promotional activities and support their national team and share the perfect
moment and to build a strong acceptability of the Castle brand on the market,” Murambinda said, reading a speech from Delta executive director Maxen Karombo. Sue Destombes, the
Cosafa chief operations officer, said the timing of the competition was ideal for the teams.

“The timing of the competition is not a mistake, but intended to ensure that teams get maximum preparation for the Chan qualifiers that most will take part in.”

Cosafa president Suketu Patel said in a Press Release: “The return of our showpiece regional competition is long overdue and we are excited at the prospect of once again seeing
the best players from the Southern African region compete for the title.”

Acting Zifa President Ndumiso Gumede said Zimbabwe will fight to retain the crown they won in 2009.

“We would like the entire region to know that it will not be easy to wrest away the Cosafa trophy. The Cosafa Cup affords member associations to unearth their hidden giants and over the years it brought to the fore our talented footballers, the likes of Sageby Sandaka, Vusa Nyoni, Ronald Gidiza (Sibanda) and Onisimor Bhasera, among others.”

This year’s tournament will also be used to promote Cosafa’s partnership with United Against Malaria (UAM). The draw was made in Lusaka last Friday night where the 14 competing
nations in the Southern African champions learnt their fate. The eight lowest seeded sides, according to the April FIFA World Rankings, were pooled into two groups of four sides each.

The remaining six top seeds enter the competition in the quarterfinal stages, with hosts Zambia already paired against Mozambique in their quarterfinal clash.

Group A contains East African guests Tanzania, Namibia, Mauritius and Seychelles, while Group B has Kenya, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. The teams will play each other in a round-robin format, with the top sides in each pool advancing to the quarterfinals.

Holders Zimbabwe will start the defence of their title with a tasty clash against Malawi. South Africa will take on the winners of Group A, while Angola await for the victors in Group B. The opening game of the tournament will be played in Lusaka on July 6 when Tanzania take on Mauritius. Matches will also be played in Kabwe and Kitwe.

The Cosafa Cup returns for the first time since 2009 when then hosts Zimbabwe defeated Zambia 3-1 in the final. The Cosafa Cup was first played in 1997 as a regional championship for Southern African sides. Zimbabwe head the honours list with four titles, while Zambia, South Africa and Angola have three each. They are the only countries to have won the event.

Yesterday’s colourful launch was attended by Warriors coach Klaus Dieter Pagels and his assistants Lloyd Mutasa and Nkululeko Dlamini, members of the Zifa Board and the Premier Soccer League secretariat, Warriors legends Misheck Chidzambwa and John Phiri, among others, and various football personalities.

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