The draw for the group stage of the 2013 COSAFA Under-20 Championships to be held in Lesotho later this year was made in Maseru on Sunday, revealing the first round matches for the regional showpiece tournament.
The draw was conducted by COSAFA competitions committee chairperson Timothy Shongwe and Lesotho national team coach Leslie Notsi, outlining the fixtures for the event that will be staged from December 3-14.
The 14 competing teams have been split into four pools, two containing four sides and the other two with three teams.
Hosts Lesotho will be joined in Group A by East African guests Kenya, Comoros Islands and Mauritius, while the other four-team pool is Group C that contains defending champions Zambia, South Africa, Namibia and Seychelles.
Group B contains Angola, Mozambique and Madagascar, while Group D has Botswana, Zimbabwe and Swaziland.
The first matches of the tournament will be played in Maseru on December 3, with Botswana’s clash against Swaziland the first of a triple-header that will end with Lesotho taking on Comoros.
Before that East African guests Kenya will take on Mauritius in their first match.
The official opening ceremony for the tournament will also be held at the venue on the first match day.
Zambia, who have won the last three instalments of the competition, open their title defence against Namibia in the other match venue for the tournament, Mafeteng on December 4. South Africa, another of the pre-tournament favourites, will take on Seychelles at the same venue.
Regional powerhouse Zimbabwe will meet Swaziland in their Group D opener in Maseru also on December 4, while after that Group B’s top seed Angola take on Madagascar.
Nations will play each other in a round-robin format in the first stage with the top team in each pool advancing to the semi-finals.
Because there are only three teams in Groups B and D, the top two sides in these groups will each play one additional match crossing over between B and D. The top side in Group B will play the second-placed team in D and vice-versa.
Thereafter, the top team in each of the groups will qualify to the semi-final round.
The semi-finals are scheduled for December 12 and the final two days later on December 14 in Maseru.
The COSAFA Under-20 Youth Championship has been played in various guises since 1983, with Zambia having won the most titles - 10.