The Council of Southern African Football Association (COSAFA) on Thursday evening confirmed the cancellation of its senior men’s tournament with the Women’s Championship set to go ahead in November as planned.
While the decision had looked inevitable for some time, since the virtual shutdown of world sport and the postponement of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), the COSAFA Cup had been one of the few events not to have been officially cancelled.
However, COSAFA General Secretary Sue Destombes says it is now impossible for the men’s event, scheduled for October 7-15 (during the FIFA international window) to take place.
“These are the greatest obstacles to overcome, but there have been some encouraging signs in recent weeks now that the South African Government has re-opened borders to African countries and confirmed that international sporting events may take place,” COSAFA said in a statement.
“Sadly, this news has come too late to allow for the COSAFA Cup, with too little preparation time available to utilise the October FIFA International window and a packed international calendar to the end of the year with the resumption of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in November.
“COSAFA remains optimistic of hosting four of its six scheduled tournaments in 2020, a year that has seen the football calendar severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
According to Destombes, the regional football body has been working very hard behind the scenes to prepare for its events but remains reliant on the green light from governments across the region.
“A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes during the COVID-19 pandemic to try and realise our goals of hosting these events to continue our mandate of developing Southern African football on and off the pitch,” said Destombes.
“But we are completely reliant on conditions being favourable and obviously that is out of our control.”
The COSAFA Women’s Championship will be staged in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa from November 3-14, with several teams having already confirmed their interest in taking part.
Banyana Banyana have won the Women’s Championship three times in a row and will be looking to defend their crown at home.
The teams that have confirmed their participation are South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Comoros, Angola and Malawi, while Namibia and Eswatini are awaiting government approval to travel.
East African nation Kenya have requested a guest place in the tournament, while Mauritius remain doubtful.
Madagascar, Seychelles and Mozambique have declined, and Lesotho have yet to commit to taking part.
The Women’s Under-17 Championship is also scheduled to be played in Nelson Mandela Bay concurrently with the senior tournament but in a reduced format.
The Men’s Under-17 Championship is pencilled in to be staged in South Africa from November 19-29, with the host city still to be determined.
Meanwhile, the COSAFA Men’s Under-20 Championship will now no longer take place in Mauritius after the nation withdrew from hosting due to current Covid-19 regulations and is now planned to also take place in South Africa from December 3-13.
“What we can promise is that health and safety protocols will be in place, as well as utilising practices from the experiences of the South African Football Association (SAFA), who successfully completed their 2019-20 league season,” added Destombes.
RELATED STORY: Destombes remains hopeful of hosting COSAFA Cup in 2020
By FARPost Reporter