Cosafa tourney delayed

MASERU –– The COSAFA Senior Challenge Cup once again faces an uncertain future following Zimbabwe’s withdrawal of its offer to host the tournament yesterday. The country’s withdrawal comes after it was unable to raise the USD 700 000 (around M5.5 million) required to host the tournament, and it means southern Africa’s showpiece tournament has been postponed indefinitely. The championship, formerly known as the COSAFA Cup, has been in limbo ever since the Mpumalanga provincial government (in South Africa) withdrew its sponsorship in May after tournament dates could not be decided. However the competition seemed to have been saved when Zimbabwe came in as hosts in July. MASERU –– The COSAFA Senior Challenge Cup once again faces an uncertain future following Zimbabwe’s withdrawal of its offer to host the tournament yesterday. The country’s withdrawal comes after it was unable to raise the USD 700 000 (around M5.5 million) required to host the tournament, and it means southern Africa’s showpiece tournament has been postponed indefinitely. The championship, formerly known as the COSAFA Cup, has been in limbo ever since the Mpumalanga provincial government (in South Africa) withdrew its sponsorship in May after tournament dates could not be decided. However the competition seemed to have been saved when Zimbabwe came in as hosts in July. The Zimbabwe Football Association had hoped to receive a sponsorship package of approximately US$700 000 from the Zimbabwean government which in addition was expected to provide accommodation, transport and food for the 14 participating teams –– an undertaking that, it estimated, would have cost a further US$2 million (around M16 million). The COSAFA championship is not a recognised FIFA event and has attracted dwindling attention from the region’s major powers. However it remains important to COSAFA’s smaller nations including Lesotho whose best performance in the competition came in 2000 when they lost to Zimbabwe in the final. The COSAFA Senior Challenge Cup was due to be Lesotho’s only competitive international football tournament this year. The Zimbabwe Football Association had hoped to receive a sponsorship package of approximately US$700 000 from the Zimbabwean government which in addition was expected to provide accommodation, transport and food for the 14 participating teams –– an undertaking that, it estimated, would have cost a further US$2 million (around M16 million). The COSAFA championship is not a recognised FIFA event and has attracted dwindling attention from the region’s major powers. However it remains important to COSAFA’s smaller nations including Lesotho whose best performance in the competition came in 2000 when they lost to Zimbabwe in the final. The COSAFA Senior Challenge Cup was due to be Lesotho’s only competitive international football tournament this year.

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