Team-by-team guide to COSAFA Women’s Championship

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The 2020 COSAFA Women’s Championship will feature 10 teams this year when the tournament is staged in South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Bay from November 3-14.

Here is a run-down of the entrants and their past history in the competition.

ANGOLA

Best finish: Runners-up (2008)
FIFA Ranking: 121
CAF Ranking: 18

Angola will be making a return to the COSAFA Women’s Championship for the second year running in 2020 as they take their place among the 10 teams.

The Angolans had taken a hiatus from the competition before their showing in 2019, and have appeared in three of the seven previous finals overall. It shows the emphasis that is being put back on the women’s game in the country, after they failed to enter the qualifiers for the 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cups.

In July, Artur de Almeida e Silva, president of the Angolan Football Federation, was appointed to coordinate the COSAFA Women’s Football Committee.

Angola are currently ranked number 121 in the world and 18 in Africa.

BOTSWANA

Best finish: Fourth (2019)
FIFA Ranking: 148
CAF Ranking: 27

Botswana will be seeking to build on their maiden appearance in the knockout stages of the COSAFA Women’s Championship last year.

They made it through to the last four, but lost 4-0 to eventual runners-up Zambia. They went through the pool stages unbeaten though, defeating Namibia (1-0) and Mauritius (3-0), before playing to a 0-0 draw with Zambia.

They also lost the bronze-medal match, going down 3-0 to Zimbabwe.

But it is a vast improvement on past showings. The Lady Zebras did in fact now win a match in their opening three visits to the finals in 2002, 2008 and 2011.

They broke that duck in 2017 with a 3-0 success over Lesotho.

They also managed a draw against eventual champions South Africa, but it was not enough to advance from their pool as they finished second.

In 2018 they opened with a 2-0 win over Malawi, lost 1-0 to South Africa and drew 0-0 with Madagascar to finish runners-up in their pool.

The country has not yet qualified for a major championship, having entered the preliminaries for the last three FIFA Women’s World Cup finals, and for the African Women’s Championship since 2008.

COMOROS ISLANDS

Best finish: Group Stages (2019)
FIFA Ranking: 156
CAF Ranking: 30

Comoros Islands will return to the COSAFA Women’s Championship for the second time in a row after a difficult debut in 2019 from which many lessons will have been learnt.

Comoros were placed in a tough group and lost all three games, going down 17-0 to hosts South Africa in their opener.

That is a record score in the competition as the eventual winners used their greater experience and physicality to ensure they claimed a big win.

Comoros also went down 5-1 to Madagascar and 13-0 to Malawi in their other pool games. It means Wafat Mari is their only scorer in COSAFA Women’s Championship matches to date.

Growth in the women’s game has been slow in the country, but is picking up pace and they will be keen to showcase their quality in the regional championship.

The country entered the preliminary competition for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, their first appearance, but after a 13-0 loss to powerhouse South Africa in the first leg of their qualifier, did not fulfil the return fixture.

They then did not enter the preliminaries for the 2019 World Cup, and have also not entered the qualifiers for the African Women’s Championship.

ESWATINI

Best finish: Group Stages (2002, 2006, 2017, 2018, 2019)
FIFA Ranking: 151
CAF Ranking: 28

Eswatini featured in the early days of the COSAFA Women’s Championships and after a brief hiatus have now returned to play in the last three instalments of the regional showpiece competition.

They are awaiting their first qualification for the knockout stages, but will hope to make steady progress towards that and could perhaps spring a surprise this year.

Eswatini claimed a 3-0 win over Botswana in their second match in 2002, their first win on their maiden appearance, but also lost out to Mozambique (0-2) and South Africa (0-4) to end third in their pool.

They were back at the finals in 2006, but this time lost to Namibia (0-6) and Zambia (0-7) in what was a difficult campaign.

The country skipped the 2011 tournament but returned for the 2017 finals in Zimbabwe, where a 3-0 win over Mauritius was followed by a 2-2 draw with Mozambique. They were denied a first ever place in the semifinals though after a 1-0 loss to East Africa guest nation Kenya.

The following year proved a harsher experience as they lost all three games, going down to East African guests Uganda (4-3), Zimbabwe (3-0) and Namibia (4-1) to finish bottom of the pool.

The side were much improved in 2019 as they won two of their three games, but still narrowly missed out on the semifinals.

A 3-1 victory over Mozambique was followed by a thumping 4-0 success over Angola. But they came unstuck against Zimbabwe, going down 7-0 in their final pool match to bow out.

The team entered the qualifiers for the 2018 African Women’s Championship, which also served as the preliminaries for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, but went down 3-1 on aggregate to Lesotho in the first round.

LESOTHO

Best finish: Group Stages (2002, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2017, 2018)
FIFA Ranking: 147
CAF Ranking: 26

Lesotho have been regular competitors at the COSAFA Women’s Championships since the first tournament played in 2002, though they did not take part in 2019.

They did not get off to the best of starts with a 15-0 defeat in their opener to hosts Zimbabwe, which was followed by a 3-0 defeat to Malawi and a 3-1 loss to Zambia.

It did not get much better in 2006 as they lost 9-0 to South Africa and 3-0 to Malawi in a three-team group.

They were close to semifinal qualification in 2011 when they beat Mozambique 3-2 but lost to Malawi in their play-off decider.

In 2017 they claimed a fine 2-1 win over Namibia in pool play, but lost to South Africa and Botswana, both by 3-0 scorelines.

They returned in 2018, but lost all three matches, going down to Zambia (2-0), Mozambique (2-1) and Central African guest nation Cameroon (6-0) to finish bottom of their pool.

MALAWI

Best finish: Fourth (2011)
FIFA Ranking: 145
CAF Ranking: 24

Malawi played their first ever international at the 2002 COSAFA Women’s Championships, but were on the receiving end of an 8-0 loss to hosts Zambia at that tournament.

They beat Lesotho 3-0 in their next game to record a first win, but failed to reach the knockout stages.

They defeated Lesotho by the same scoreline at the 2006 COSAFA Women’s Championships, but a 3-0 loss to South Africa ended their semifinal hopes.

Malawi did reach the knockout stages when the tournament was played in 2011, finishing second in their pool, but came unstuck against the South Africans again with a 5-1 semifinal loss.

They eventually finished fourth after losing 3-0 to East African guest nation Tanzania in the bronze medal play-off match.

The side had a mixed competition in 2017, losing to Zambia (6-3), drawing with Zimbabwe (3-3) and claiming a handsome win over Madagascar (6-3) to finish third in the pool with four points.

It was also mixed success in 2018, with a 2-0 win over Madagascar tempered by a loss to Botswana by the same scoreline and a 6-0 hammering from South Africa.

The side continued to show their progress with another strong performance in 2019, but once again they could not sneak into the knockout stages.

They started with a 2-0 win over Madagascar, but that was followed by a 3-1 loss to South Africa. They finished their pool play with a team record 13-0 success against the Comoros Islands.

Malawi have yet to qualify for the African Women’s Championship.

SOUTH AFRICA

Best finish: Winners (2002, 2006, 2008, 2017, 2018, 2019)
FIFA Ranking: 53
CAF Ranking: 3

South Africa are six-time winners of the COSAFA Women’s Championship and will be the defending champions again after claiming the last three tournaments.

The side are also still basking from the achievement of qualifying for a first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019 as the game in the country continues to make steady strides and break new boundaries.

South Africa have competed at every African Women’s Championship since 1995, but despite five runners-up finishes, have yet to claim the gold medal. In 2018 they lost the final on penalties to nemesis Nigeria.

TANZANIA

Best finish: Third (2011)
FIFA Ranking: 139
CAF Ranking: 21

East African guest nation Tanzania first appeared in the COSAFA Women’s Championship in 2011 and made a strong impression, walking away with the bronze medal.

They managed pool stage wins over Botswana (3-1) and Zambia (2-0), but lost to South Africa (1-0) to finish runners-up.

That set up a semifinal with hosts Zimbabwe, where they lost on penalties after a 0-0 draw. They made up for that disappointment with a 3-0 success over Malawi in the third-place playoff.

They will appear again this year and hope to emulate the Tanzania side that claimed the COSAFA Women’s Under-20 Championships at the same Nelson Mandela Bay venue last year.

Tanzania qualified for their only African Women’s Championship finals in 2010, when the finals were hosted in South Africa.

ZAMBIA

Best finish: Runners-up (2019)
FIFA Ranking: 100
CAF Ranking: 12

Zambia have enjoyed a recent return to form having qualified for the 2014 and 2018 African Women’s Championships and showed that improvement at last year’s COSAFA Women’s Championships when they finished as runners-up to hosts South Africa.

They will see the silver medal as progression, with the Shepolopolo having three times before been bronze medallists in the regional showpiece competition. Lifting the trophy will be a genuine aim of theirs in 2020.

ZIMBABWE

Best finish: Winners (2011)
FIFA Ranking: 111
CAF Ranking: 15

Women’s football in Zimbabwe saw a resurgence a decade ago after the side won the Southern African championship in 2011 and also qualified for the Olympic Games football tournament in Brazil in 2016.

Zimbabwe have always been a competitive side and finally broke their duck in the competition with victory in 2011, which ended South Africa’s fine run of success in the tournament.

They reached the final in the inaugural competition in 2002, but lost to South Africa 2-1 in the decider in Harare. They had stormed into the decider with four straight wins in which they scored a staggering 36 goals, including a then competition record 15-0 victory over Lesotho in their opener.

Zimbabwe’s best finish at the African Women’s Championships was fourth in 2000. They have been to four continental finals in all, but did not make it out the pool stages in 2002, 2004 and 2016.

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