Zebras get bye to COSAFA quarterfinals

COSAFA boost: The Zebras' better rankings have propelled them to the quarter finals of the COSAFA without kicking a ball
COSAFA boost: The Zebras' better rankings have propelled them to the quarter finals of the COSAFA without kicking a ball

Zebras are assured of a place in the quarterfinals of this year’s COSAFA Senior Challenge scheduled for May 17 to 31 in the North West Province, South Africa.

Zebras, being one of the top six ranked sides in the COSAFA region, will not play the first round of the competition that will be contested by the lower ranked sides in group format. The draw for this year’s event will be held tomorrow in Johannesburg, South Africa.

According to COSAFA, 12 out of 14 regional countries have already confirmed their participation at this year’s event.

Comoros have opted out while Angola are yet to make a decision.

Zebras find themselves in the quarterfinals due to their position in the February FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. They are currently sitting at position 105 in the world and are sixth ranked in the COSAFA region.

Teams ranked from position seven up to 14 will be drawn into two pools. The top team in each group will join the six nations in the quarterfinals.

“The regional senior championship is a crucial component for the development of football in Southern Africa and we are delighted to be staging the event in South Africa this year and using the world-class facilities of the North West province. “This tournament forms part of a busy programme in 2015 which includes our Beach Soccer championship in Seychelles from April 9-11 and the Men’s Under-20 tournament later in the year.

“These are exciting times for the region and we look forward to staging a successful senior championship, one that FIFA president Sepp Blatter once stated was the best regional tournament in the world.

“The format of the team will be the same as in 2013. The lower eight participating sides according to the February FIFA rankings will compete in the first round, where they will be drawn into two pools, each (pool) comprising four teams.

“The top team in each group will advance to the knockout stage of the tournament, where the six higher ranked sides will join the tournament from the quarterfinals onwards.

“There will also be a plate competition for those sides knocked out in the quarterfinals of the competition to ensure each side plays multiple matches,” COSAFA President Suketu Patel, said in a press statement.

Zebras’ last match was away to Senegal in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier last year, where they lost 3-0.

Having failed to qualify for the AFCON finals, which were played in Equatorial Guinea recently, Zebras will now seek to restore pride by doing well in the regional tournament.

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