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Cosafa Challenge scrapped

Teboho Molapo

MASERU — The Cosafa Senior Challenge has been scrapped for the second year running, the Sunday Express has learnt.
The Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) spokesperson, Baba Malephane, yesterday confirmed that the tournament would not be held again this year because no country had expressed interest in hosting it.
“The tournament will not be played this year,” Malephane said.
The development deals another heavy blow to Lesotho national soccer team’s bid to come back into the international fold after a two-year absence.
The tournament was last hosted and won by Zimbabwe in 2009.
The tournament began in 1997 as the Cosafa Castle Cup.
The name was changed in 2008 to the Cosafa Senior Challenge and the tournament was played in 2008 and 2009 before problems started.
Likuena were expecting to use the tournament to rebuild since returning from a two-year self-imposed exile from international football.
The postponement, the second in a row, will no doubt raise question marks over the future of the tournament.
The Cosafa regional showpiece has suffered serious sponsorship problems since SAB Miller ended its 10-year association with the tournament in 2007.
The main reason for the lack of sponsorship is that the tournament championship is not a recognised Fifa event.
However, it remains important to smaller nations including Lesotho whose best performance in the competition came in 2000 when they lost to Zimbabwe in the final.
There will however be no such problems for the Metropolitan Cosafa Under-20 Youth Championships which will be played in Botswana from December 1.
Meanwhile Malephane, who is also the chairman of Lesotho’s referees, said he was pleased with the standards of match officials after a course that was held last week.
“I’m happy with the performance of the referees,” Malephane said.
“Fifa will conduct a fitness test on August 25 and we expect the ones who are here to do well.”

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