Thursday Jun 17, 2021. 08:30
Defending champions Chipolopolo Zambia will have to roll-up their sleeves at the 2021 COSAFA Cup with no favours for them, their fellow the big guns and top seeds who all have to toil in the group stage of this season’s edition.
The COSAFA Cup returns after a forced hiatus in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and will be held at Nelson Mandela Bay from July 7-18.
Twelve teams head into Thursday’s draws.
There will be no top seed byes, quarterfinal or consolation Plate final to look forward to in this season’s edition with parity prevailing and a straight race to semifinals the tone of this year’s tournament.
The 2021 COSAFA Cup has been divided into three groups of four teams with the winners and best second place finisher advancing to the penultimate stage.
Five-time winners Zambia are expected to head into the draws as one of the top group seeds together with record six-time champions Zimbabwe and hosts South Africa.
But one of them is going to be handed the gracious honour of playing guest side Senegal in the preliminary pool round.
Senegal will be making their COSAFA Cup debut and are following in the footsteps of DR Congo, Kenya Uganda and Tanzania to have all graced the competition as guest nations.
Meanwhile, expectations are high from Zambia heading into this milestone edition of the COSAFA Cup.
The 2021 COSAFA Cup will mark the championships’ 20th edition and that is especially momentous for Zambia who were the first nation to win the inaugural tournament in 1997.
Furthermore, Chipolopolo’s Serbian-born coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic will be making his COSAFA Cup debut.
After presiding over another AFCON qualifying flop for Chipolopolo pus a forgettable 2021 CHAN quarterfinal exit in Cameroon including an unconvincing display by his presumptive COSAFA Cup team during the June friendly window, Micho braces to see the rite of passage the football gods have lined-up for him this Thursday.