Botswana have cited issues relating to school examinations for their players as a reason for their withdrawal. Eswatini have stepped in and are delighted to be sending a team to the competition, having been a regular participant at this age-group level in the past.
They will open their Group A campaign against Zambia on October 12, before a meeting with Malawi two days later. They close out their pool play against South Africa on October 16.
Eswatini featured in the very first COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship in 1994 but did not make it past the group stages despite a handy showing that included a win and two draws in their four matches.
They did make the semifinals in 2001 but lost 2-0 to South Africa and then went down by the same scoreline in the bronze-medal match to Zambia.
Eswatini were back the next year, gaining draws with Botswana (1-1) and Lesotho (0-0), but ended second in the four-team mini-tournament after an epic 5-4 loss to eventual winners South Africa.
They finished bottom of their pool in 2007, despite a win over Namibia (3-1), and did not take part in the next event in 2016 that came after a long lay-off for the tournament.
They missed 2017 too, but returned for the 2018 edition, claiming a pool stage win over Zimbabwe (3-2), but losses to Angola (0-4) and Malawi (0-1) saw them exit the competition early.