The tournament will run from July 6 to 18 and will see Eswatini and Lesotho kicking off the action at Nelson Mandela Bay
Tournament organisers have maintained the 2021 Cosafa Cup will go ahead as planned despite the stricter Covid-19 lockdown regulations enforced in South Africa.
According to Cosafa general secretary Sue Destombes, the tournament will proceed as scheduled from July 6 to 18 and will be staged at Nelson Mandela Bay.
South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed on Sunday that Level-4 restrictions is back in effect to help curb the rise in numbers of Covid-19 infections, especially in Gauteng.
Despite the statement, Destombes has stated Cosafa and Safa have put in place strict measures to be adhered to during the competition and further assured teams of their safety.
“Whilst there is a need to implement stricter measures to deal with the current statistics, the President of South Africa in his address to the Nation on June 27, 2021, was clear in that daily life and business, in particular, should continue”, Destombes said as quoted by Cosafa website.
“The restrictions on inter-provincial travel do not apply to transit through OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, and travel for the purposes of business is permitted.
“Cosafa has already put in place strict Covid-19 protocols to ensure the safety of all role players, including operating within a bio-bubble and playing matches behind closed doors.
“Cosafa, hosts Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and agencies of the South African Government have extensive experience in staging events in the midst of the lockdown, having hosted four competitions in Nelson Mandela Bay in 2020, and with professional domestic football and international matches continuing.”
Zambia will begin their title defence against the Comoro Islands at the Isaac Wolfson Stadium on July 7 but this is after Eswatini and Lesotho kick off the tournament at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on July 6, before hosts South Africa meet Botswana at the same venue later in the day.
Six-time winners Zimbabwe are in action on July 8 against Mozambique at the same venue, while West African guest nation Senegal will enter the fray as well when they debut against Namibia.
The group stage will be completed on July 14, with the semi-finals, for the three group winners and best-placed runner-up to be played two days later at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The winner of Group A, which includes South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, and Eswatini, will take on the best runners-up in the semis, with the victors in Groups B (Zambia, Malawi, Comoros, Madagascar) up against the winners of Group C (Senegal, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique).