ZIMBABWE will play Botswana and Swaziland in the group stages of the Cosafa Under-20 Youth Championships to be held in Lesotho from December 3-14, following a draw conducted in Maseru, Lesotho, yesterday.
The Young Warriors are coached by Jairos Tapera, who is also the senior national team assistant coach.
The Cosafa Under-20 Championship has taken on many guises in its 25-year history, but over the years has become a significant breeding ground for young talent in the region.
From a South African perspective, the likes of Itumeleng Khune, Lerato Chabangu, Daine Klate, Elrio van Heerden and Lebohang Mokoena have all represented their country at this level and gone on to forge successful club and international careers.
Other young stars such as Clifford Mulenga and Isaac Chansa (both Zambia), Tinashe Nengomasha and Onismor Bhasera (both Zimbabwe), as well as Jimmy Zakazaka (Malawi), have used the tournament to persuade PSL clubs that they have a bright future in the game.
The tournament was first played in 1983, but was a little-recognised get-together of a few of the stalwarts of the region, including Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Botswana.
The apartheid practices of South Africa at the time meant they were excluded, and only entered the fray for the first time in 1993.
Those early years were dominated by the ‘Two Zs’, with Zambia winning six and Zimbabwe three of the first nine tournaments held.
Group A — Lesotho, Kenya, Comoros Islands, Mauritius
Group B — Angola, Mozambique, Madagascar
Group C — Zambia, South Africa, Namibia, Seychelles
Group D — Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland