REUNION PULLS OUT

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…As Congo join Cosafa party

By Michael Miyoba

THE Zambia Under-20 national soccer team will play Congo DR in group A of the 2018 Cosafa under-20 championship to be held in Kitwe after Reunion gave notice of their intention to withdraw.

Cosafa confirmed the development yesterday noting that Democratic Republic of Congo, who have been no strangers to COSAFA events in the recent past would bring skill and flair to the tournament. Reunion, an associate member of COSAFA, had indicated an eager willingness to take part in what would have been a first ever regional competition at any age-group level for the Indian Ocean Island, which is a region of France.

But post-Wednesday’s draw in Kitwe, the football association said that they would be forced to withdraw as they could not secure reliable flights from Reunion to Zambia for the event.

The decision for Reunion to withdraw from taking part in this year’s youth championship shocked Cosafa president Philip Chiyangwa who expressed disappointment with Reunions decision to withdraw.

Chiyangwa however, hailed Congo DR for filling the gap left by Reunion in group A.

Congo DR will take their place in Group A for the competition, which will be played in Kitwe from December 2-14.

“We are disappointed that Reunion will not be following up their interest in playing at the Mopani Copper Mines COSAFA Under-20 Championships after they had approached COSAFA with the wish to be included,” COSAFA president Dr Phillip Chiyangwa said.

“But we are delighted to welcome Congo DR , who are a nation with a rich football history and great pedigree. They played in our Under-20 tournament in 2016 and won the bronze medal, and they will no doubt be among the teams to beat again.

“We thank them for stepping in at this relatively late stage and know they will bring an added dimension to the competition, both in terms of skill and entertainment.”

Congo DR also took part in the 2016 COSAFA Cup for senior national teams, where they finished fourth. The first round draw for the COSAFA Under-20 Championships this year sees defending champions South Africa placed in Group B along with Namibia, Mauritius and eSwatini, while Group C contains Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Angola and Botswana.

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