Hosts Botswana have been drawn in a tough group that includes Zimbabwe in this year's Metropolitan COSAFA Under-20 Youth Championship to be held from December 3 to 11. The other countries with Botswana in Group A are Malawi and Swaziland.
The Young Zebras, who finished third in last year's edition, were among the four-seeded teams with 2009 runners-up, South Africa, defending champions, Zambia and Madagascar. South Africa head Group B which has Lesotho and Namibia while Zambia, Mauritius and Angola make up Group C with Madagascar, Mozambique and Seychelles in Group D.
Botswana open their account with a tricky fixture against Zimbabwe at the UB Stadium on December 3. They face Swaziland on December 5 before rounding up their group matches with a fixture against Malawi on December 8.
Speaking at the draw in Gaborone yesterday, COSAFA executive committee member, Timothy Shongwe said he was confident that Botswana will host a successful tournament.
"We pledge our support to the people of Botswana. There is no reason to fail. We will deliver a tournament worth watching," said Shongwe, the Swazi Football Association vice-president.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) president, David Fani said the COSAFA Under-20 tournament is crucial for football development.
He said it is an honour for Botswana to be accorded the right to host the competition which has always been held in South Africa.
"We are humbled to have been selected to host this year's edition. We recognise the importance of players' development. This tournament will test what we have in terms of facilities," Fani said.
He said the UB Stadium and the Molepolole Sports Complex will be the two-match venues while Maruapula, Bank of Botswana, Wharic, Duma FM, SSKB and Lekidi grounds will be used for training.
The COSAFA Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held in Gaborone during the tournament.
Shongwe, who is COSAFA competitions chairperson, said the venue of the next tournament will be discussed at the AGM. "Our desire is that the tournament is held on a rotational basis but we have to take into consideration the interest of the sponsor," Shongwe said. Comoros, the latest addition to COSAFA, has withdrawn from this year's competition.