Cosafa Cup is about development - Mbidi

12 June 2019 | Sports

The Cosafa vice-president Frans Mbidi has insisted that the Cosafa Cup senior tournament is still relevant.

The tournament was recently held in South Africa, with Zambia winning the competition.

In the past, most teams competing in the tournament fielded their senior players, while it also attracted a large number of passionate spectators. However, things have changed in recent times, as most teams now field their junior players or under-23 players. It is also evident that the tournament barely attracts any supporters, even when host nations are playing, compared to the 1990s and early 2000s when large crowds flocked to the venues.

Mbidi said the tournament has diverted most of its attention to development.

“Most of our tournaments are set-up to ensure that there is development taking place. I believe this competition is still important and relevant, even if teams are not fielding their senior players.

“The senior players often play in other competitions throughout the year and that is why an opportunity is given to the other players to grow into future superstars, by playing in the Cosafa Cup,” Mbidi said.

He also lauded the quality of play at the just-ended Cosafa tournament, saying the coaches and players produced competitive performances.

“In terms of expectations, we are happy because we believe that the tournament proved a success. Yes, the crowds were not as much as we would have hoped for, but there was enough hype from several nations.

“One thing that I will not forget to mention is the fact that some teams really played good football and their players will definitely attract big football clubs,” Mbidi said.

The following teams have participated in the tournament in the past: Tanzania, Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe have won six titles, followed by Zambia with five and South Africa with four.

Namibia won their first-ever Cosafa Cup in 2015 and went on to win the plate competition in 2016, when they hosted the competition in Windhoek.

The first editions of the competition were played as knockout tournaments staged over several months.

As the competition grew, it transformed into a series of mini-tournaments.

This year the tournament was to have been staged in Zimbabwe, but the hosting rights were eventually granted to South Africa after Zimbabwe withdraw as hosts.

Mbidi called on other nations to also host the tournament in order for it to rotate around southern Africa.

“Every country can host it as long as they are financially equipped to do so, because it takes plenty of financial resources to host it. We are encouraging other nations to take up the challenge and host the competition too.

“Namibia can actually also take up the bid to host it next year, if its financial resources are in place,” Mbidi added.

Jesse Jackson Kauraisa