The 2019 Cosafa Women’s Championship will be staged in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth for the second year running as hosts South Africa seek to retain the title they won in dramatic fashion 12 months ago.
Banyana Banyana, who will be fresh from their maiden appearance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, defeated guest nation Cameroon in last year’s decider and will be among the favourites again for the July 31-August 11 regional showpiece competition.
South Africa are, in fact, going for a hattrick of titles after also lifting the 2017 title in Zimbabwe, and head an excellent field where the best women’s talent in the Southern African region will be on display.
“We are delighted to be hosting our annual Women’s Championship in the Friendly City of Port Elizabeth for a second year running,” says Cosafa President Dr Phillip Chiyangwa. “It is a city with a rich football heritage that has produced many fantastic players down the years.
“People came out in huge numbers to support the tournament in 2018 and the atmosphere at matches was electric, with the standard of football on the pitch adding to the excitement and drama.
“We would once again like to thank the South African Football Association for their support, as well as our gracious hosts, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.
“We are set to have an exciting field containing the best of our region and it shows once more the tremendous growth of the women’s game among our members.”
A dozen teams dream of Cosafa glory
The 2019 Cosafa Women’s Championship will again have a field of 12 teams this year.
Aside from South Africa, other confirmed participants are Angola, Botswana, Comores Islands, Eswatini, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The draw for the competition will take place on Wednesday, July 3 and will see the 12 teams split into three groups each containing four sides.
The top team in each pool will advance to the semifinals along with the best-placed runner-up.
Women’s football has seen a huge surge in popularity around the world in recent years and Southern Africa is no different, with ever more teams sprouting up at club level.
The first Cosafa Women’s Championship was held in Zimbabwe in 2002 and was won by South Africa, who beat their hosts 2-1 in the final.
Four years later and the South Africans triumphed again at the finals in Zambia where they beat Namibia 3-1 in the decider. South Africa then made it three in a row when they beat Zimbabwe in the finals of the 2008 tournament in Malange, Angola.
Zimbabwe claimed the title in 2011, when they also acted as hosts, defeating South Africa 1-0 in the final.
Banyana Banyana got their revenge in Bulawayo two years ago though as they ran out 2-1 winners, before winning again in Port Elizabeth for their fifth trophy win in six events.
African News Agency (ANA) Editing by Herman Gibbs