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Talent spotters head for Kimberley

Posted: 27 November 2008 Time: 12:59

The Cosafa Under-20 championship, that are being hosted by South Africa in Kimberley this year, has taken on many guises in its 25-year history, but over the years it has become a significant breeding ground for young talent in the region.

From a South African perspective, the likes of Itumeleng Khune, Lerato Chabangu, Daine Klate, Elrio van Heerden and Lebohang Mokoena have all represented their country at this level and gone on to forge successful club and international careers.

Other young stars such as Clifford Mulenga and Isaac Chansa (both Zambia), Tinashe Nengomasha and Onismor Bhasera (both Zimbabwe), as well as Jimmy Zakazaka (Malawi), have used the tournament to persuade PSL clubs that they have a bright future in the game.

The tournament was first played in 1983, but was a little-recognised get-together of a few of the stalwarts of the region, including Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Botswana.

The apartheid practices of South Africa at the time meant they were excluded, and only entered the fray for the first time in 1993.

Those early years were dominated by the ‘Two Zs’, with Zambia winning six and Zimbabwe three of the first nine tournaments held.

South Africa were the first team to break the mould when they triumphed in 2000, having been losing finalists in 1995 and 1999.

A year earlier, in 1999, they had taken over the hosting of the event, which before then had been spread around the region. Each tournament since has been held in the Rainbow Nation, but the winners have been less likely to predict.

Madagascar became only the fourth country to win the event when they surprisingly triumphed in 2005, beating shock finalists Lesotho 1-0 in the Final.

But more than lifting the trophy, the tournament is about developing the talent of tomorrow and giving young players the chance to compete with their peers in a highly-competitive environment that should help to prepare them for the challenge of future international football.

It is also a chance for provincial governments in South Africa to show off their organisational skills, as Nkosinathi Chonco, group executive at Metropolitan, says: “This is now the third partnership of Cosafa with provincial governments. In 2006 it was the North West, in 2007 Mpumalanga, and now the Northern Cape.

“Last year's tournament in Mpumalanga was an unqualified success and a great boost for the local people in the area, which is exactly the target market we aim to serve.”

Previous winners:

1983 Zambia 1985 Zimbabwe 1986 Zambia 1988 Zimbabwe 1990 Zimbabwe 1993 Zambia 1995 Zambia 1997 Zambia 1999 Zambia 2000 South Africa 2001 Zimbabwe 2002 Zimbabwe 2003 Zambia 2004 South Africa 2005 Madagascar 2006 South Africa 2007 Zimbabwe

Most Wins 7 – Zambia 6 – Zambia 3 – South Africa 1 – Madagascar

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