Wednesday Jun 23, 2021. 12:00
The historic 20th edition of the COSAFA Cup will be staged in Nelson Mandela Bay from July 6-18, providing a welcome return for Southern Africa’s most prestigious international tournament after the COVID-19 pandemic forced a pause in 2020. We add up the numbers on what is sure to be a thrilling tournament!
1 – Powerhouse Senegal will feature in the COSAFA Cup for the first time. They will be a guest nation and bring some west African flair. They are the top-rated nation in Africa and are at number 22 in the FIFA World Rankings. The best result for a guest nation in the past was the bronze medal for Tanzania in 2017.
1 – Namibia’s triumph at the 2015 COSAFA Cup was their first in the competition and made them just the fifth country to lift the title in all. They also had a ‘first’ in 2016 when they hosted the tournament for the first time.
1 – The South African coastal city of Nelson Mandela Bay will play host to the COSAFA Cup for the first time, with the local municipality using their world-class facilities to stage the competition. South Africa will now have hosted five of the last six COSAFA Cup tournaments.
2 – Mozambique is the only side to have won the bronze medal on more than one occasion (1997 & 2009). They also have two silvers to their name in 2008 and 2016, but never gold!
3 – South Africa have lifted the Plate trophy for the last three tournaments, some consolation for quarterfinal exits. There will be no Plate in 2021, and they would love to instead lift the main trophy.
3 – There will be a change ion format for 2021 that will see the 12 teams split into three groups each containing four teams. The top teams in each pool and the best runner-up will advance to the semifinals.
3 – Lesotho have reached the COSAFA Cup semifinals in the last three tournaments but come up short on each occasion. They finished third in 2018, and fourth in 2017 and 2019. They did reach the final in 2000 but lost both legs 3-0 to Zimbabwe.
3 – Eswatini have been to the semifinals of the COSAFA Cup on three occasions (1999, 2002 & 2003), but have yet to reach the final. They are one of five COSAFA sides never to have reached the final along with the island nations of Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros.
4 – Zimbabwe coach Sunday Chidzambwa is the most successful coach in COSAFA Cup history with four titles, won in 2005, 2009, 2017 and 2018. He has never been beaten outright in a COSAFA Cup match, having coached in 19 games so far!
5 – The disproportionately high number of own goals scored in Malawi’s favour in their COSAFA Cup history, three times by Angola (Moises, Fernando & Ito), once by Zimbabwe (Nyamupanedengu) and once by Namibia (Tjihero). Malawi did not manage a goal in any of their matches in 2017.
6 – The number of titles won by Zimbabwe after their back-to-back triumphs in 2017 and 2018, when they defeated Zambia in the final on both occasions (3-1 and 4-2). Zambia now have five after their victory in 2019, while South Africa have four wins, Angola three and Namibia that single triumph.
6 – Aside from their five tournament wins, Zambia have also finished runners-up on six occasions, more than any other nation. Four of those runners-up medals came between 2004 and 2009, before they also picked up a silver medal in 2017 and 2018.
6 – The number of goals scored by Zimbabwe forward Ovidy Karuru at the 2017 COSAFA Cup, which saw him finish as top-scorer at the tournament and also claim the record for the most goals in a single tournament.
7 – The number of Southern African sides that could use the 2021 COSAFA Cup as preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers that resume in September – Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
7 – The Seychelles stunned Mauritius 7-0 in the 2008 COSAFA Cup, which remains to this day the biggest ever margin of victory in the competition. It also remains the only ever victory for the island nation in the competition, having played 28 games so far.
8 – The iconic Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, the scene for this year’s COSAFA Cup final, staged eight matches during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, including the third-place play-off between Uruguay and Germany.
9 – The number of nations that appeared in the first ever COSAFA Cup. There will be 12 at this year’s event in Durban, a reduced number due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Angola, Seychelles and Mauritius will be the absent members of COSAFA.
12 – The number of matches it took before Zambia finally lost a COSAFA Cup match. The team won the first two competitions and were eventually beaten 1-0 by Angola in 1999.
15 – Zimbabwe are currently on a 15-game unbeaten run in the COSAFA Cup (not including penalty shoot-outs), having last tasted defeat in a surprise 4-1 loss to Namibia in 2015! It is the longest unbeaten run in the competition’s history.
15 – The age of Angolan goalkeeper Eduardo Bunga when he played in the 2016 COSAFA Cup!
16 – Zambia have reached the semifinals of the COSAFA Cup on the most occasions – 16 – and have made it through to the deciding match in 11 of those. Zimbabwe are the next highest with 12.
38 – The number of wins managed by Zimbabwe in their COSAFA Cup history, more than any other country.
60 – The number of matches played by Zimbabwe in the history of the COSAFA Cup, the most by any side.
107 – The number of goals scored by Zimbabwe in the history of the COSAFA Cup, the most by any side.
1997 – The first year the tournament was staged, with Zambia ending as inaugural winners.
2008 – The year South Africa completed a notable feat – winning back-to-back COSAFA Cup titles. Only inaugural winners Zambia (1997 & 1998) and Zimbabwe (2017 & 2018) have managed to do the same, though it seems it happens a decade apart with South Africa in 2007 & 2008! Will 2027 and 2028 be the next time?