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MBABANE – Eswatini has suffered a big blow in as far as women football development is concerned as COSAFA has excluded both Sitsebe and the women Under-17 team in next month’s tournaments.

The 2020 Council of Southern African Football Association (COSAFA) Women’s Championship and the Women’s Under-17 Championship will take place in South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Bay, Port Elizabeth from November 3-14, 2020 concurrently.

The national women’s team, Sitsebe, and the women’s Under-17 are not part of the eight and six countries respectively that will be participating in the tournaments. A source close to the matter said the late participation confirmation by the Eswatini Football Association (EFA) was the reason that caused COSAFA to dump the country out of the tournaments.

Government announced the gradual reopening of organised top level football activities in the country as of yesterday. National teams, including Sitsebe and the Under-17 women’s team, fall under the organised football activities.

The eight countries to feature in the tournament are hosts and defending champions South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Comoros Islands, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

Early last week, COSAFA indicated that the country (Eswatini) and Namibia were waiting for government approval, with Kenya having requested a guest place in the tournament, while Mauritius remained doubtful. Madagascar, Seychelles and Mozambique have declined participation, and Lesotho was yet to commit to taking part.

The exclusion of Sitsebe means newly-appointed coach Dumisani ‘Du’ Makhanya will end the year without leading the team in an official game after football was suspended in March, same time when they were appointed.

Eswatini featured in the early days of the COSAFA Women’s Championships and have been regulars ever since.

Sitsebe claimed a 3-0 win over Botswana in their second match in 2002, but lost to Mozambique (0-2) and South Africa (0-4) to end third in their pool.   They were back at the finals in 2016, but lost to Namibia (0-6) and Zambia (0-7) in what was a difficult campaign.

They skipped the 2011 tournament but returned for the 2017 finals in Zimbabwe, where a 3-0 win over Mauritius was followed by a 2-2 draw with Mozambique. They were denied a first ever place in the semi-finals after a 1-0 loss to East Africa guest nation Kenya.

In 2018 they suffered a narrow 4-3 defeat to East African guest nation Uganda in their first game, before going down 3-0 to Zimbabwe and 4-1 to Namibia.

The country has not been able to enter a team for the qualifiers for the Women’s World Cup and African Women’s Championships since the late 1990s. Last year the team was eliminated in the group stages of the tournament while led by Anthony Mdluli.

EFA Marketing and Communications Officer Muzi Radebe said for now he could not comment as the EFA executive was yet to meet.

(Additional information by cosafa.com)

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