The 2023 HOLLYWOODBETS COSAFA Cup will be staged in Durban from July 5-16, where the battle for the title of regional kings will be fought once more.
There is a new format for this year, but many of the regulations from past competitions remain in place. Here is a quick run-down of the major criteria you need to remember.
Coaches will be able to select a preliminary squad of 30 players, which must be cut down to 23 for the final tournament in Durban. The final squad is due to be submitted by June 26.
In line with CAF requirements, all head coaches at the tournament must have a minimum of a CAF Pro, A or B coaching license. Assistant coaches can have a Pro, A, B or C license. The equivalent qualifications from other zones are accepted. Should coaches not have the above, they will not be allowed to sit on the bench during matches.
A NEW FORMAT
This year sees a departure from previous tournaments with 12 teams competing, split into three groups each containing four sides. The group winner and best second-placed side will advance to the semifinals. The winner of Group B will take on the winner of Group C, with the top team in Group A to meet the best runner-up.
DECIDING GROUP PLACES
Should two or more teams finish on the same number of points in the pool phase, they will be separated by the result of their head-to-head meetings in the first instance. If this does not provide a conclusion, the next criteria will be goal difference resulting from the group matches between the teams concerned and then greater number of goals scored in all the group matches between the teams concerned. If there is still no clear winner, then goal-difference in all group matches and finally a Fair Play points system in which the number of yellow and red cards are evaluated will be used. Failing that there will be the drawing of lots.
DETERMINING THE BEST RUNNER-UP
The best runner-up across the three groups will be determined as follows. The higher number of points the teams concerned obtained in their group matches, the superior goal difference of the teams concerned and the higher number of goals the teams concerned. If there is still no clear winner then it will come down to Fair Play points of the teams concerned in terms of yellow or red cards accumulated in the pool phase.
There will be no extra-time played in the semifinals or the third-place play-off, tied matches will go straight to penalties. However, the Cup Final will have two 15-minute periods of extra-time if the match is all-square after 90 minutes. Should there still be no winner, then penalties will decide the winner.
If a player receives two yellow cards in the tournament, he will be suspended for one match. However, bookings picked up in the group phase fall away ahead of the knockout phase, unless they receive two yellows in the final pool stage game, in which case the suspension is carried over. If a player receives a red card in a game, he will also serve a one-match suspension. If a player received two red cards in the tournament, he will be suspended for the remainder of the competition and play no further part.
Teams may make up to five substitutions in a game, though these must be limited to three separate occasions within the match (not including halftime). In the event of extra time, one additional substitution may be made.