Summer 2013 continues with what feels like endless international competitions. Africa is no exception as there are a couple competitions going on in the month on July. The larger competition is qualifying for the 2014 CHAN tournament, but that is comprised of local based players and does not represent the nation’s ‘A’ squad. There has been much debate about whether or not the CHAN matches will be included in the FIFA rankings. It appears that they will be included for now, but don’t be surprised to see them retracted sometime in the near future. We Global does not waffle on such issues and will not include the CHAN qualifiers in the ranking calculations.
The tournament which will be included in our ranking system is this summer’s COSAFA regional championship. For those who are unfamiliar, confederations such as CAF, AFC and CONCACAF are broken down into regional sub-confederations. The CAF confederation is comprised of 5 regional sub-confederations:
- CECAFA – Council of East and Central African Football Associations
- COSAFA – Council of South African Football Associations
- WAFU – West African Football Union
- UNAF – Union of North African Football Federations
- UNIFFAC – Central African Football Federations’ Union
COSAFA consists of 14 full time members and 1 non-FIFA associate member, most of which are footballing minnows.
They are: Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Seychelles, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Reunion (associate member).
The COSAFA championship, known as the COSAFA Cup, ran annually from 1997-2009. It was not played in 2010, 2011 or 2012. While it’s a “regional” championship, FIFA only counts these matches as friendlies since there is no correlation to the African Cup of Nations tournament. It’s a shame, but at worst it provides an opportunity for nations to play some matches. Often times the small members of COSAFA are eliminated from World Cup and AFCON qualifying in the preliminary stages and do not get many opportunities outside of those competitions.
That’s exactly what the first round of the COSAFA Cup is intended to do. None of these teams have a realistic chance at winning the title, but it’s a chance for them to play against some level competition rather than getting drawn against an African powerhouse in other tournaments only to be eliminated.
The 2013 edition is being held in Zambia. For reasons unbeknownst to the public, Comoros and Madagascar did not enter in the 2013 edition. One would have to assume that monetary reasons are to blame.
Group A initially included guest invitee Tanzania, Namibia, Mauritius and Seychelles. However, Tanzania withdrew and were replaced with Equatorial Guinea. A month had passed and they too decided a trip to Zambia wasn’t in the budget. Group A will now consist of only 3 teams.
One thing to note is there is no mention of Reunion in this year’s edition. As associate members of the sub-confederation, you would think they would have been excited to participate and would have made a great fit in Group A. Including a non-FIFA squad wasn’t a problem in last year’s CECAFA championship. Zanzibar won their group and made a run to the semi-finals, only to fall to Kenya in a penalty shootout!
So without any more debate, let’s take a quick look at xCRO for Group A.
Somewhat surprisingly, xCRO fancies Mauritius to top the group. This immediately caught my attention and required further investigation. It appears that lack of games is only reason why Mauritius is receiving the nod. Club M have played 1 match over the last 18 months; a 1-1 draw at home to Reunion in September. Common sense is going to strike the veto button here. We Global likes Namibia to advance here, despite the god-awful run of form they possess. Seychelles has no chance. The winner of this Group will go on to face South Africa in the quarter-finals.
Group B is your traditional 4 team round-robin, consisting of invitees Kenya (again, why not Reunion?), Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. The worst thing about this group is that xCRO likes the invitee to advance. There’s nothing worse than having some outsider come in and crash the party! If you’re going to invite someone to play, why choose a nation who’s probably going to beat all 3 teams it faces? It totally defeats the purpose of the entire competition. Geographic proximity can’t be the only deciding factor here. Fly in a team from the Indian Ocean like the Maldives or Sri Lanka to be the group’s whipping boys. Although, my rant must be taken with a grain of salt as this mess could have been avoided if Comoros and Madagascar weren’t such wussies.
Here are the xCRO predictions for Group B.
Hopefully Kenya doesn’t bring their ‘A’ squad and takes it easy on this softball COSAFA threw their way. I tend to think Botswana has a little bit better chance than 19.6% given that Kenya could bring a diluted squad. Either way, Lesotho and Swaziland will not advance. The winner of the group will face Angola in the quarterfinals.
The remaining 6 entrants have received byes to the knockout round. Rather than breakdown each possible matchup, we’ve ran multiple scenarios through xCRO to determine who has the best chance of making the semi-finals. We will start with the two matchups already pre-determined:
Zambia are heavy favorites to advance while Zimbabwe and Malawi are in a dead heat. That game could be the one to watch in the quarterfinals. The other two quarterfinals will involve teams from the first round, so xCRO had a little bit more work to do there.
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Bafana Bafana were given a gift draw by receiving the group A winner. They are very heavy favorites to set-up a delicious semi-final with hosts Zambia.
It appears like the survivor of the Zimbabwe v Malawi clash will face Angola in the semi-finals. If Botswana somehow survive Group B, they will face certain defeat. Kenya gives Angola the best competition.
In summary, your 2013 COSAFA semi-finals will be Zambia v South Africa and Malawi v Angola.
If I were a gambling man, which I am, I’d put money on Zambia facing Angola in the final. Home turf for Zambia should be enough to see them lift the trophy, but anything can happen!
Predicted Champion: Zambia
Stay tuned for coverage and updated odds as the tournament progresses. Also make sure you grab the tracker from the Downloads section of the website.
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