Seychelles' men's national football team will face a tough test in the 2023 Hollywoodbets Cosafa Cup in Durban after having been drawn in the group with the title-holder Zambia.
The Seychelles' side is in group B with Zambia, Malawi, and Comoros. While Comoros is a known opponent from the Indian Ocean neighbour, the team's biggest test will be against defending and record champions of the tournament, Zambia.
Zambia were the inaugural winner of the competition in 1997, and along with Zimbabwe, have won it a record six times each. Malawi, a two-time finalist, will also be a tough test for the Seychellois side.
For Seychelles, this competition has always been a tough one, with the team only ever winning once, and that was on penalties against Namibia in 2006.
At the time, in the group stages, four teams competed in a straight knockout and Seychelles' win put them in the group C final, where they lost 2-0 to eventual champions, Zambia.
Group A comprises South Africa, Namibia, Eswatini, and Botswana, and group C is made up of Mozambique, Angola, Mauritius and Lesotho.
Two top teams from each group will advance to the last-four stage, along with the best-placed runner-up.
The competition's format has changed for this year and there will be 12 teams from the region divided into three pools of four teams each. The previous format had two groups of four teams while six other teams joined at the quarterfinal stage.
According to the oganisers, the new format will ensure that a team plays a minimum of three games and allows for an extra day's rest between most pool games.
The pool games in Durban will take place from July 5-12, while the semi-finals will be on July 14. The final and third-place play-offs are scheduled for two days later.
Seychellois Suketu Patel named Cosafa honorary president
At the ceremony, Seychellois Suketu Patel, a former president of the Seychelles Football Federation (SFF) was named honorary president of Cosafa.
Patel, who also served as vice president of the African Football Confederation (CAF), received the award at the Cosafa annual general meeting in South Africa, where the draw for the Cosafa Cup also took place.
The vice president of the SFF, Dolor Ernesta, received the award on behalf of Patel from the hands of Zambian Breda Kunda, chairperson of the Cosafa women's committee.
Patel told SNA that "when I was in the position I did my best and this is definitely a sign that our contributions have been appreciated."
"I do feel good to be given this title, but when I was doing that job it was not to be given any honours, but to ensure the development of football in the region," he added.
Salemane Phafane from Lesotho and Adam Mthethwa from Eswatini were awarded honorary vice-president status, while Ashford Mamelodi of Botswana was named as an honorary secretary general.
The Cosafa is an annual tournament for teams from Southern Africa organised by the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA). It started after the ban against South Africa was lifted and the country was able to host the African Cup of Nations in 1996.