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All eyes Turn To Eswatini For Zonal Qualifier

The HOLLYWOODBETS COSAFA Women’s Championship is now a thing of the past and we are already looking ahead to two more tournaments on the horizon. Next up is the HOLLYWOODBETS COSAFA Beach Soccer Championship in Durban from September 25-October 1, as well as the and the regional men’s Under-20 championship in Eswatini that goes by the name of the TotalEnergies AFCON U20 Egypt 2023 | COSAFA Qualifier. That tournament serves as a preliminary competition for the continental finals in Egypt next year, which in turn are the qualifiers for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup that will be staged in Indonesia. So the long road to the global finals starts in the Kingdom of Eswatini and we spoke to the country’s football association President Peter Simelane to find out how preparations are going and the general health of football there.

Our second interview for this episode is with Zunaid Mall, who was appointed technical director for the Mauritius Football Association in March 2020 but was dealt a swift blow as the COVID-19 pandemic brought a halt to sporting activities on the island. But they are now back in full swing with extensive plans in place to drive football forward in the country. We spoke to him about Mauritius’ return to the regional Under-20 competition after a hiatus, participation in the COSAFA Beach Soccer event, and much more.

Lungu Wants To Add Reginal Crown To Recent Trophy Haul

Our latest episode of The COSAFA Show comes just days away from the start of the HOLLYWOODBETS COSAFA Women’s Championship on Wednesday, where East African guest nation Tanzania will seek to retain the title they won last year. But there will be any number of challengers for the trophy, not least a strong Zambian side that recently finished third at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco and sealed a first-ever qualification for the Women’s FIFA World Cup next year. We chat to their star midfielder Ireen Lungu, who also recently enjoyed COSAFA success in the Women’s Champions League competition with her club Green Buffaloes. Lungu will be a key member of the Copper Queens squad in Nelson Mandela Bay and says they are gunning for a first-ever regional title as she discusses a range of issues.

Natasha Tsichlas has been a pioneer in women’s football for two decades and had a hand in starting the Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies team that has been so dominant in recent times. She is well placed to talk about the future of the game in the region and what is needed to take it to the next level. She shares her views on how women’s football can accelerate its growth in the region.

Panel Discussion On The Growth Of Women's Football

In this special episode of The COSAFA Show, we sit down with three figures from women’s football in South Africa, Zambia and Botswana to hear their stories and the growth in the game in that country that led to their excellent performances at the recent 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations. In celebration of the TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Champions league | COSAFA Qualifier that is being played in Durban this week, we have a special set of guests. We are joined on our panel by Angela Kubheka, who is Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies Media & Liaison Manager, and who has watched closely the improvement in women’s club football in South Africa.

Our second guest is Gwen Chipasula, who is the Media and Public Relations Officer for Zambian topflight men’s side NAPSA Stars but has also worked as a COSAFA Media Officer. The third member of our panel is Gaone Pearl Kerileng, a former player with Botswana side Double Action Ladies who is now a journalists in that country.

The trio talk us through their own journey in football, the state of the women’s game in their respective countries and some of the challenges they have faced in a sometimes male-dominated environment. Each is very successful in their own right, but that does not mean there hasn’t been obstacles in the path to their success!

Coaches Views, Tactical Trends And The Fastest Football Around

Zambia clinched the HOLLYWOODBETS COSAFA Cup 2022 in fine style in Durban to claim their record-equaling sixth regional title following their 1-0 victory over Namibia in the final.
It was a superb tournament with some excellent football, showcasing the rich array of talent in the Southern African region.

In this edition of The COSAFA Show we hear from the coaches of both Zambia and Namibia to get their reflections on the decider, as well as South Africa tactician Helman Mkhalele after his youthful side collected the Plate competition.There is also a fascinating discussion with former Al Ahly assistant coach Cavin Johnson on his role as part of the Technical Study Group at the competition, whose job it is to analyse the tactics and trends among the teams.
Johnson reveals their findings and give some wonderful insight into the latest developments in the game in the region. It is not to be missed!

We also hear the view of COSAFA Medical Officer Dr Thulani Ngwenya on how tournaments are moving away from the strict COVID-19 protocols and what this means for all stakeholders.
Former Bafana Bafana international Mark Fish explains all about his project Fast Footie which is aimed at giving young players a fun and exhilarating entrance to the game. It is also an interview not to be missed!

And finally, we hear from participants and convenor Ashford Mamelodi at a COSAFA administration workshop that was held in Durban to upskill local budding administrators in the KwaZulu-Natal province, one of COSAFA’s many legacy programs at each tournament.

Which Referees Are Set For Retirement This Year?

Nobody knows more about match officials on the continent than legendary COSAFA Referees Manager Felix Tangawarima, tasked with bringing through a new generation of talent in the coming years.
He has already overseen the careers of some of Africa’s leading match officials, including the man of the moment Victor Gomes.
But with a number set to retire this year, who he names on The COSAFA Show, there is the need to push on and bring through a new group. “We have been ranked number one in Africa as a zone in terms of the development of referees,” Tangawarima says. “You can see on the ground that, for example, the [2021] Afcon final was taken by COSAFA referees, as was the finals of the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup this season. “All of these were officiated by COSAFA referees. This is the first time it has happened, so we can see the results of our development plan that has been laid down for some years now. “COSAFA is the only zone in Africa that is taking two ‘trios’ of match officials to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Out of the 16 match officials going to the World Cup from the continent, COSAFA is providing six. That is an amazing compliment to us.”

Also in this episode we hear what Durban has in store for the HOLLYWOODBETS COSAFA CUP 2022 and get the thoughts of Zambia goalkeeper Hazel Nali ahead of the start of the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco on Saturday.

Hollywoodbets COSAFA Cup Brings Excitement To Kwazulu-Natal

The 2022 Hollywoodbets COSAFA Cup is set to be the best yet with top teams and players to take part in the July 5-17 competition in Durban.
On this episode of The COSAFA Show, we hear from COSAFA President Artur de Almeida e Silva after the draw was held this past week as he explains why more corporates from around the Southern Africa region should get involved in the tournament.
We also get the view of Hollywoodbets Brand and Communications manager Devin Heffer as he explains why they were so keen to come on board, not just for this tournament but several other COSAFA events in 2022.

Dr. Fikile Ndlovu, who is acting Head of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sport, Arts & Culture, reveals why they are delighted to see the tournament return to Durban after they last staged the event in 2019.
And Brilliant Khuzwayo, who is a former goalkeeper for Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana, but saw his career cut short by injury, has his say. He has become involved in football development and will be an ambassador for the Hollywoodbets COSAFA Cup this year. 

Finally, we have an in-depth interview with Seychelles Football Federation President Elvis Chetty on how that organisation is emerging from the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and just what the future holds in the island nation.

Malawi's Flames Ready To Meet Raised Expectations

Football Association of Malawi President Walter Nyamilandu says the team is ready to meet the raised expectations on the side following their stunning performance at the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon earlier this year.
The Flames reached the second round of the continental showpiece for the first time and took Morocco close in the knockout stages, showing a massive improvement in performance.
Nyamilandu admits the hard part is now to replicate that but believes the side are on a new upward trajectory as they host Ethiopia in Sunday’s opener for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
“We needed to showcase how good Malawi is. All those years we were misfiring, but it is great that the Flames brought some good news for Malawi,” Nyamilandu told The COSAFA Show.

“The performance [in Cameroon] was exceptional, beyond the expectations of a lot of people, and we take pride in what we achieved. It was something historical. We are still enjoying the moment and I hope it will last a long time. 
“Our plan is to start from where we left off. We were on a high and we want to capitalise on that momentum as a springboard. The boys have a lot of confidence that they can excel. We are taking matches very seriously because we want to go to the finals in Ivory Coast.
“There is an expectation from Malawians that we will qualify. We need to make a big statement.”

Also in this episode, we speak to Botswana Football Association President Maclean Letshwiti about The Mares’ maiden appearance at the 2022 CAF Women’s Cup of Nations finals in Morocco next month, and the joint bid with Namibia to host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations finals.
 Finally, we hear from Eswatini Football Association President Peter Simalane about developments in that country.

New COSAFA President Promises Closer Co-Operation Among Members

New COSAFA President Artur de Almeida e Silva has said he wants to bring Member Associations closer together to solve their problems internally, rather than have CAF or FIFA get involved. Artur de Almeida was speaking in an exclusive interview with The COSAFA Show podcast following his election at the organisation’s General Assembly in Windhoek, Namibia on Saturday. “We need to bring all countries of COSAFA next to each other and next to their governments to help build infrastructure and help the federations. We have to connect our members,” Artur de Almeida said. “In our region, we have so many conflicts in the federations.

One idea is to have each of the seven members of the COSAFA Executive Committee assist two countries. To help them, maybe they visit the countries two or three times a year to meet the federation to know things are going and what assistance they need. “If there are some conflicts, COSAFA can be the first one to go and fix the problem. Before CAF or FIFA. For that, we have to come next to our members.”

Also in this episode we speak to newly-elected COSAFA Vice-President Said Ali Said Athouman on his vision and how he, as his country’s federation president, has masterminded the incredible growth of the Comoros national team in recent years.

'You Are Playing Big Boys Now' - Botswana Coach Mpote

Botswana coach Mogomotsi Mpote admits his side are in a tough 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualification group but is hopeful that with some fresh talent to compliment his established stars, they can return to the continental showpiece for the first time since 2012.
The Zebras are in a pool along with Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, and Libya, with the top two teams to advance to the finals in Ivory Coast next year. 
It is certainly a difficult group with three worthy opponents and some arduous travels, but Mpote is confident his side will compete.

“It’s a tough one, there is no easy group [in the qualifiers],” Mpote says. “You are playing big boys now. You need to prepare well and play those games. We are expecting to work hard and win some matches. 
“We always think about the advantage of other countries, whereby they have players who are playing in the European leagues, and you have boys who are not in those leagues.
“But at least we know the boys are playing week in, week out [in the local league]. We are looking forward to those games.”

Mpote, who led Botswana to the 2019 COSAFA Cup final, where they lost to Zambia, says he would like to introduce some new players into the squad during the campaign.
“You have to mix [the squad], because we are looking at 2023 and beyond. You have players from the Under-23s, and then the tried and tested boys. If you mix, and you know you have at least two players in each position, young and senior, you will make it.
“The Under-23s will know what we are up against when we play these CAF games. Many of the boys admire the players in Europe, but once you play with them [you learn the level] and find a way to compete with them.”

Also in this episode of The COSAFA Show, we hear from Petro Atletico coach Alexandre Santos on how they defeated Mamelodi Sundowns in the CAF Champions League, and the co-coach of Orlando Pirates Mandla Ncikazi on their progress in the CAF Confederation Cup.

Malawi Coach Believes Teams Can Achieve Back-To-Back Qualifications

Malawi coach Mario Marinica is hoping to take The Flames back to the Africa Cup of Nations finals in 2023 after their excellent showing in reaching the second round in Cameroon earlier this year. Malawi have been drawn with Egypt, Guinea, and Ethiopia in Group D of the latest qualifiers that are due to begin in June, and while Marinica admits it is “not easy”, he is hopeful they can continue to show the improvement that served them so well at the last finals. One worry is a lack of game-time at the club level for some of his top stars, including Orlando Pirates forward Gabadinho Mhango, but the Romanian coach says they will just have to manage the situation. “Not too many things have changed, but unfortunately our top player Gabadinho Mhango, like at the AFCON, is still not a regular for his team,” Marinica told The COSAFA Show.

“But we believe in him and every single player we choose. We think that by working hard and being organised, we have a chance. “You rely on selecting players on merit and on form, and when these players are not playing regularly, it is a difficult task. But at the end of the day, we must make do with the best players we have on hand.
“At [the 2021] AFCON, we were the team with the most players playing in the local league – 14 out of 28. That will likely not change this time either.”

Also on this episode of The COSAFA Show, we get draw reaction from Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos, while COSAFA General Secretary Sue Destombes gives an update on the latest tournament calendar for 2022.

There Is One African Team That Can Win The World Cup - Oliseh

Nigeria legend Sunday Oliseh believes African football is yet to reach its full potential but says there is one side on the continent that could win the FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this year. Oliseh was a star of the Super Eagles team that excelled at the 1994 World Cup in the United States and won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Atlanta two years later. So he is well placed to speak about Africa’s potential and why we have yet to fulfill Pele’s prophecy that a team from the continent would win the World Cup by the year 2000. “There is one team that can win it in Africa and that is Senegal,” Oliseh told The COSAFA Show. “I have been following them for the past few years and watching the players in Europe, and the importance that they bring to their clubs. “Senegal currently has the best goalkeeper in the world [Edouard Mendy], he makes saves, he is calm, and has height. “They also have one of the best central defenders in the world in Kalidou Koulibaly. I am amazed he is still at Napoli! He is solid on the ball, solid on the man, he can even move from the defence to the defensive midfield role.“And then they have Sadio Mane, and I don’t need to say any more about him. They also have an African coach [Aliou Cisse] that has been there for eight years now. “So they have continuity, they have the talent and the exposure, all that is lacking in this team, in my opinion, is that high-level organisation. They need to go there with the view that they can win it.” Also in this episode, we speak to Eswatini coach Dominic Kunene about their progression to the next stage of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and hear from Bafana Bafana mentor Hugo Broos following their 5-0 loss in France.
We also get the view of Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi as they attempt to make CAF Champions League history this weekend.

Asanovic Ready To Take Zambia To The Next Level

New Zambia coach Aljosa Asanovic says there is no reason why his side cannot qualify for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast … or even the FIFA World Cup in 2026.
Croatian Asanovic has recently taken over the side and will lead them in friendly games this month, starting with a trip for locally-based players to Iraq on Friday, before they tackle Guinea and maybe one other team in France.
Chipolopolo did not qualify for the 2021 Cup of Nations, a wake-up call for the side, but Asanovic is adamant that they will be in Ivory Coast. “We have the target to go to the CHAN [African Nations Championship], and I have the target to prepare the team for the COSAFA Cup. I have many targets, but the first one is to qualify the team for the next Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast,” Asanovic told The COSAFA Show. 
“This is an obligation for myself and my players to the Zambian people. We have 18-million people who expect that we will be at Afcon.” He says he is aware of what needs to change within the team and says raising the level of performance and being more consistent in games is the place to start. “I know how I need to make my team the best [it can be],” he said. “I have a very good team, but what I want to try to change is the discipline in the game. The mentality of the players.
“The game is 90 minutes, and the whole time the performance must be on the same level. The discipline in the game and the quality of each player. This is what I am thinking all the time.
“If you are disciplined in training, that will translate into the discipline in the game.”
We also speak to Lesotho Football Association secretary-general Mokhosi Mohapi about the appointment of Veselin Jelusic as that country's new coach ahead of their 2023 Cup of Nations qualifier against Seychelles starting next week.

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