The Palancas Negras cited the need to complete their league season and preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations as the reasons for opting out of the competition.
The short notice has placed COSAFA Cup organizers in a tight spot and despite canvasing far and wide across the continent for a replacement, the timeframe simply did not allow for a new participant with the tournament to get under way in Durban this weekend.
It means that this year’s Group A will contain three teams – eSwatini, Mauritius and Comoros Islands – giving one of those sides an excellent opportunity to reach the quarterfinals and set up a date with defending champions Zimbabwe on June 1.
The change has also forced a revision of the fixture list, with the COSAFA Cup now to kick-off with a vlash between eSwatini and Mauritius at the King Zwelithini on Saturday (kick-off 16h30).
eSwatini will then tackle Comoros on May 27 (17h00), before Group A is completed with a match between Comoros and Mauritius two days later (17h30). Both those matches are also at the King Zwelithini Stadium.
Three-times winners Angola have missed two previous COSAFA Cup tournaments – the very first one in 1997 and also four years in 2015.
Meanwhile, South Africa have named a youthful squad for the 2019 COSAFA Cup, but have included a number of top overseas-based stars for the tournament in Durban that runs from May 25-June 8.
The majority of the squad are from the country’s U-23 squad as they prepare for their Africa Under-23 Championship qualifier against Zimbabwe in September, but the likes of France-based Keagan Dolly and Liam Jordan in Denmark have also been included.
The U-23 team boss David Notoane will coach the players but the squad has been selected in conjunction with senior national team boss, Stuart Baxter.
Dolly is working his way back to full fitness after a season on the sidelines and is trying to get back his match sharpness ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt.
There are also two Portugal-based stars in Kgaogelo Sekgota (Vitoria Setubal) and Luther Singh (Chaves), who will both also be looking to make their mark.
“Keagan Dolly has asked me if he can get more game-time,” Baxter said. “We are allowing him to get that game-time, to bring up his sharpness. We are making a meaningful event of COSAFA and we are investing international game-time into the right players.” There are a number of other exciting home-based players in the squad, including forward Phakamani Mahlambi (Mamelodi Sundowns), midfielder Teboho Mokoena (SuperSport United) and defender Keanu Cupido (Cape Town City).
Goalkeeper Reyaad Pieterse (Mamelodi Sundowns) will also take part. He was in goal when an Under-23 selection for South Africa won the 2016 COSAFA Cup in Namibia, beating Botswana 3-2 in the final.
South Africa open their 2019 COSAFA Cup campaign against old foes Botswana on June 2 at the Princess Magogo Stadium.Squad:Goalkeepers: Mondli Mpoto (Bloemfontein Celtic), Darren Johnson (Ajax Cape Town), Reyaad Pieterse (Mamelodi Sundowns).Defenders: Thendo Mukumela (Ajax Cape Town), Keanu Cupido (Cape Town City), Reeve Frosler (Kaizer Chiefs), Tercious Malepe (Chippa United), Katlego Mohamme (SuperSport United), Bongani Sam (Bloemfontein Celtic), Sandie Mthethwa (Richards Bay)Midfielders: Teboho Mokoena, Athenkosi Dlala, Sipho Mbule, Kamohelo Mahlatsi, Jamie Webber (all SuperSport United), Keagan Dolly (Montpellier, France), Grant Margeman (Ajax Cape Town), Kgaogelo Sekgota (Vitoria Setubal, Portugal).Strikers: Phakamani Mahlambi (Mamelodi Sundowns), Lerato Lepasa (TS Galaxy), Jemondre Dickens (Baroka FC), Luther Singh (Chaves, Portugal), Liam Jordan (Koge, Denmark).