JOHANNESBURG – The Cosafa (Council of Southern Africa Football Associations) Cup will give South Africa a chance to enhance its profile on the African continent.
The country will be hosting the 2018 Cosafa Cup after replacing Botswana who were named as the original hosts.
The tournament will be played at three venues in the Limpopo Province from this Sunday and starts with the first round fixtures though Stuart Baxter's South African team will only join the tournament in the quarterfinal round when they face the winner of Group A on Sunday, June 3.
South Africa are one of only two Cosafa member countries to have won the African Nations Cup title, doing so on home soil at their first attempt in 1996. Zambia joined them with their 2012 success.
Bafana Bafana have also qualified for three World Cups, competing in France in 1998 and South Korea in 2002, and hosted the tournament in 2010.
They also hold the distinction of being the only southern African country to provide a winner of an African club competition with Orlando Pirates taking the African Champions Cup in 1995, Kaizer Chiefs the African Cup Winners’ Cup in 2001 and Mamelodi Sundowns in the Champions League in 2016.
But despite all that success, South Africa reached the final of Cosafa Castle Cup for the first time in 2002, winning the trophy with a 4-1 aggregate triumph over Malawi in the two-legged final.
After more barren years, they claimed the back-to-back tournaments, beating old foes Zambia on penalties in the final in 2007, and running out victorious in 2008, despite fielding an unofficial ‘President’s XI’ line-up that included players mostly from the second tier of South African football.
They regained the title in Namibia in 2016, beating Botswana 3-2 in a thrilling final in Windhoek with a squad made up largely of players that would compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The side then won the Plate final on home soil in 2017.
Fact file South Africa:
Affiliated to Fifa: 1992
Affiliated to Caf: 1992
Honours: 1996 African Nations Cup winners; 1997 Afro-Asian Nations Cup winners; 2002, 2007, 2008, 2016 Cosafa Cup winners
Biggest win: South Africa 5-0 Guatemala (May 31, 2010)
Biggest defeat: South Africa 0-5 Brazil (March 5, 2014)
Biggest win in Cosafa Cup: South Africa 5-1 Swaziland (June 22, 2016)
Biggest defeat in Cosafa Cup: Mauritius 2-0 South Africa (January 10, 2004)
Leading scorer in the Cosafa Cup: Pollen Ndlanya, Patrick Mayo, Katlego Mphela, Teko Modise, Gift Motupa (3 goals)
SA's Cosafa Cup record:
1997 – Did not enter
1998 – First round
1999 – Quarterfinals
2000 – Semifinals
2001 – Quarterfinals
2002 – Winners
2003 – Quarterfinals
2004 – First round
2005 – Semifinals
2006 – First round
2007 – Winners
2008 – Winners
2009 – Semifinals
2013 – Semifinals
2015 – Quarterfinals
2017 –Quarterfinals (Plate winners).
African News Agency (ANA)