Botswana and 13 other Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) region countries will on July this year compete in the revived Cosafa cup tournament in Zambia. The tournament, which has been suspended since 2010, has recently received a major shot in the arm when the association confirmed on its website this week that South African Breweries (SAB) under their Castle brand have come back on board as sponsors.
According to Cosafa, Castle was the original sponsor of the competition from 1997 in a 10-year deal before pulling out in 2006 leaving the tournament without a sponsor from 2007 to 2009. The tournament would eventually be suspended for two years. Countries expected to compete in the Cosafa cup are Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Cosafa president and also CAF Vice President Suketu Patel was quoted this week saying they had agreed on a sponsorship deal with Castle. “The agreement that we have is that we will have the tournament this year with the option of extending if we have a successful competition,” Patel said. In other developments Cosafa has reported that they will retain their headquarters in Botswana but Cosafa house in Johannesburg would become the regional body’s administrative and commercial wing.
Patel said having their own offices was an important step forward for Cosafa and this was in line with plans they have for the future. Speaking to BG sport this week, acting Botswana Football Association (BFA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tariq Babitseng said they are yet to receive correspondence confirming the revival of the Cosafa cup. Babitseng said the new Cosafa offices were officially opened in Johannesburg over the weekend and the BFA had no representative because they were hosting FIFA president Sepp Blatter who was on an official visit to Botswana.
“At a Cosafa meeting last year, the committee was yet to finalise the revival of the regional cup, they were in talks with Zambian television to broadcast the games,” he said, adding that Cosafa president Patel even met with government officials over the matter.
Regarding the opening of the new Cosafa offices in South Africa despite Botswana being Cosafa headquarters, Babitseng said the regional body’s operation had long moved to South Africa. “The revival of the Cosafa cup will be a good opportunity for us, there will be more playtime for our national team,” he said. Speaking to BG Sport from Johannesburg, Cosafa Chief Operations Officer (COO) Sue Destombes confirmed that Cosafa has signed a one-year deal with Castle.
“The deal involves the Cosafa cup in which only the regional senior national teams will compete,” she said. The COO also confirmed that their operations had moved to South Africa but the official Cosafa headquarters are still in Botswana. “Our offices have moved to Johannesburg because it is where the region’s hub is located,” she said.