Council for Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa) has resolved to stage the 2020 Senior Challenge Cup in October in South Africa.
This comes after the regional governing body’s executive committee approved a revised 2020 calendar which is subject to the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic conditions across the region.
A statement from Cosafa secretariat states that the regional body will continue monitoring the Covid-19 situation, especially on the impact on travel regulations.
“While the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic will have on travel and quarantine restrictions remains uncertain in the coming months, the executive has crafted a potential blueprint for hosting competitions if conditions allow across the Cosafa region,” reads the statement in part .
Cosafa has said it will also prioritise the Under-17 and Under-20 tournaments since they are qualifiers for Confederation of African Football (CAF) competitions which Mauritius has agreed to host.
The statement added: “The Under-17 and Under-20 Cosafa men’s championships serve as qualifiers for the continental finals to be staged by the CAF and as such, a priority has been placed on finding a window for these tournaments.
“The Mauritius Football Association has confirmed they have government’s approval to host these tournaments in November and December 2020, subject to Covid-19 levels remaining as they are, and strict health protocols being implemented.”
Initially, Malawi was pencilled to host the Cosafa Under-17 tournament but government asked Football Association of Malawi (FAM) to pull out.
The continental finals for the Under-17 age-group are scheduled for Morocco next July, while the Under-20 finals are set for Mauritania at a date that has yet to be determined.
Cosafa has also set dates for Women’s Championship scheduled for October 19-31 in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa alongside the women’s Under-17 tournament from October 15-25.
However, the Under-20 Women’s Championship, which was scheduled for the Region 5 Games in Maseru in December, has been cancelled for this year after the Games were postponed to December 2021.
Cosafa deputy chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda said football will have to continue even in the face of Covid-19; hence, the approval of the calendar.
However, FAM says it stands by its earlier decision that Malawi will not participate in the competitions, saying players will not be ready after a long break.
FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda said with the country still uncertain on when football would return, it will be futile to expect Malawi to make commitments to participate.
Since the Under-17 and Under-20 tournaments are qualifiers for Confederation of African Football (CAF) Afcon competitions, it follows that Malawi is out of the continental tournaments.
But Gunda said the association has no choice on the matter.
He said: “Sometimes we need to be realistic on such matters. We do not even know when government will allow football to restart and if the ban on international competitions participation will be lifted as well.
“But even after lifting the suspension, which parent will allow their child to leave home for camp for three weeks then travel to play the Under-17 and Under-20 Cosafa tournaments? Right now there are travel restrictions due to the pandemic; how will teams travel to the tournaments? These are the things that we need to understand before making commitments.”