CONFUSION over fixtures has marred the Cosafa Under-20 Championships currently underway in Lesotho, with the organisers changing the rules of the tournament at the last minute.
The tournament reached the semi-final stage this afternoon in Maseru, but the last four teams were only made aware of their opponents on Tuesday evening, through a public address system.
Zimbabwe, South Africa, Angola and Kenya are the four teams left in the tournament.
The initial fixture list released by Cosafa at the start of the tournament, and corroborated by a circular sent to the media on Wednesday last week, clearly showed that the winner of Group D (Zimbabwe), was meant to play Group B winners (Angola) while Group A leaders (Kenya) were set to meet Group C representatives (South Africa) in the semis.
Groups B and D were concluded on Monday afternoon with Zimbabwe and Angola having already known they would face each other in the first semi-final match at Maseru this afternoon.
It was just after the last Group C match between South Africa and Namibia that an announcement was made that the fixtures had been changed.
“All this time we were made to believe that we would face Angola,” Young Warriors team manager Patrick Mutesva said from Maseru yesterday.
“We went to watch the South Africa versus Namibia match and it was after that match that an announcement was made through the PA system that the winners South Africa were going to meet Zimbabwe in the semis, and Angola were going to face Kenya. At first we thought it was a mistake by the announcer, but after further inquiries with the organisers, we were told we would meet South Africa next,” Mutesva added.
He said they were now preparing to meet Amajita who have been impressive this far.
“We did not necessarily change our preparations due to these changes. We have been preparing for any eventuality, so we are ready to face any opponent. South Africa has a very good squad, especially their number 11 (Pule Maraisane). He is very quick and comfortable on the ball,” Mutesva said
The good news in the Zimbabwe camp would be the return to full fitness of talisman Walter Musona, who missed his team’s last group match against Mozambique with an ankle problem. Also returning would be striker Tafadzwa Kutinyu who missed the Monday match.
“All the players except for Praise Tonha are available for selection. We had a morning training session today and we will have another one later in the afternoon. It would be a light one,” Mutesva said yesterday.
Tonha was ruled out of the tournament after suffering a concussion during Zimbabwe’s first match against Swaziland. Although he is now fit again, the technical team said they will not risk him.