The curious case of the Cosafa Cup

It is being hailed grandiosely as the Cosafa Cup Plate final between Bafana Bafana and Namibia in the tournament being staged with more than a few hiccups at the Moruleng Stadium in the North West Province.

More aptly and accurately, however, the low-key encounter should be termed as the decider as to which of the two teams finishes fifth in the tournament that is appearing increasingly more like an Alice in Wonderland saga and that which ends in sixth position.

Certainly the event has some similar trappings to The Mad Hatter's Tea Party and in many ways is becoming curiouser and curiouser.

Bafana, for example, received a bye into the quarter-final in which they were beaten 1-0 by Tanzania and after the delayed entry have only won one game in the competition thus far - the 2-0  win over minnows Botswana.

Admittedly Bafana have fielded a third-string team in the Cosafa Cup in view of the vital commitments of Soccer World Cup and AFCON qualifying games and curbs placed on the availability of players by their clubs.

But from South Africa's point of view, if not for some of the other competing nations, it has to be questioned whether the Cosafa Cup is more of a hindrance than beneficial under the trying circumstances.

Despite the incentive of free admission, games have been played in front of meagre and at times virtually non-existent crowds.

And this poses the question of whether CAF and Cosafa are not over-stretching the international program on the continent by adding tournaments that are not recognised by FIFA.

Those in question are the CHAN event limited to players plying their trade in Africa and the Cosafa Cup among others.

Pointedly while a continental nations cup tournament in Europe is only staged every four years because of the congested program, there is one every year on the African continent.

And with the maze of qualifiers for these events, in addition to the pinnacle World Cup and its own involved qualifying segment,, the international program in Africa is stretched to what often appears beyond its limit.

Little wonder South Africa have no alternative but to field a third-string line-up in the Cosafa Cup and face the consequence of poor results affecting an already less than satisfactory ranking.