By Sports Reporter
HOLDERS Zimbabwe, will defend their Cosafa Cup title, in the South African coastal city of Durban, after the South African Football Association (SAFA), agreed to host the tournament which will run from May 25 to June 8.
The 14-nation southern African regional event, was in danger of not being played this year after Zimbabwe could not secure government financial support due to the harsh economic environment prevailing in the country.
It means South Africa will host the event for a fourth time in five years.
This year’s competition, carries added significance as the field is likely to have five teams headed for Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt later in June – South Africa‚ Angola‚ Namibia‚ Zimbabwe and Madagascar.
For those not going to the continental showpiece‚ there is also the African Nations Championship qualifiers to prepare for in late July and early August.
According to reports, organisers are exploring the possibility of inviting a guest nation from outside the Council of Southern African Football Associations to take part but that is still to be finalised.
A draw is set for May 3 in Durban to determine the first round groups.
The lowest ranked eight nations from the 14 will play in two groups of four, in a round robin format in the opening week.
The top six join at the quarter-final stage for the second week of competition.
The semi-finals and final of the tournament will be played at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, which was built for the 2010 World Cup.
The King Zwelithini Stadium and the Princess Magogo Stadium will be used earlier in the competition, a Cosafa statement on Thursday said.
The decision to host the Cosafa Cup in South Africa, comes at a time the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA), has a pending case with the regional body over an alleged breach of a hosting agreement means that the association cannot conclusively seal deals for build-up matches for the Afcon finals.
The Warriors could however still be allowed to defend their regional title.
They were drawn in Group A to face hosts Egypt, DRC and Uganda in the tournament that gets underway in Cairo on June 21.