Malawi has rejoiced at the return of Castle Lager sponsorship for the Council for Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa) Senior Challenge Cup, a tournament credited with grooming many local players.
Cosafa chief executive officer Sue Destombes on Monday confirmed the return of South African Breweries (SAB) through their brand of Castle Lager beer.
“We are obviously excited to have them back as they were our partners for 10 years. At this stage, I cannot go into details of the duration and package for the new agreement. But this year’s edition is fixed for July in Zambia,” Destombes said from Johannesburg.
In separate interviews, FAM chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda and Flames captain Peter Mponda described Castle’s return as timely. FAM was supposed to host this year’s edition, but it was not ready.
“In Castle Cup’s absence during the past three years, this region’s football has been affected so much. That is why we were going for Cecafa Cup. It has come at the right time,” said Nyirenda.
Mponda is among many Malawian players who gained international exposure through playing in the Cosafa youth and senior championships alongside others such as Robert Ng’ambi and 2002 Cosafa Player of the Series, Esau Kanyenda.
“The performance of southern Africa teams at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations is enough testimony of how this region has lagged behind, partly due to the inactivity of the Cosafa Senior Challenge Cup. It is a relief that they are back,” Mponda said.
Castle returns in time ahead of this year’s edition of the senior cup which Zambia hosts in July. Malawi, the 2002 and 2003 finalists, exited the quarter-final of the last Cosafa edition which Zimbabwe hosted in 2010.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has since given southern African football an administrative boost by bankrolling the Cosafa House in Johannesburg, according to www.cosafa.com
Previously, Cosafa secretariat used to be housed in rented Johannesburg premises.