Only Comoros are missing from the COSAFA countries, while special guests Tanzania from East Africa will add a different flavour to what is already a very strong field.
The teams have been split into four groups, two of which have four sides and two that have three, with the nations playing one-another in a round-robin format.
Teams get three points for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss, with the team with the most points finishing top of the pool.
The top teams in each pool then advance to the semi-finals, where the winner of Group A will meet the winner of Group C, and the top side in Group B plays the top team in Group D.
The winners of those matches advance to the Final, with the losers playing-off for bronze in the third-place play-off.
Here is a guide to the groups, pool-by-pool
Group A: Botswana, Swaziland, Mozambique
This was initially supposed to be a four-team pool, but the late withdrawal by Comoros has meant there will be just two games for each side to stake a place in the semi-finals. Botswana has home advantage and so by virtue of that must count among the favourites for the pool, but Mozambique will be tough adversaries. Botswana has a very young squad too, having decided to use most of their Under-17 side from the previous year. Swaziland has the ability to surprise and will be no pushovers either.
Group B: Seychelles, Malawi, Lesotho
Malawi makes a return to the competition after a number of years on the sidelines and given their status as one of the traditional powerhouses of the region, is many people’s pre-tournament favourites in this pool. But no not discount Lesotho, who are have something of a renaissance in their football having qualified for the African Youth Championships twice in the last six years, and the national side advancing to the group stages of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup with an excellent preliminary round win over Burundi. Seychelles will have their work cut-out to finish top of this pool.
Group C: Zambia, South Africa, Tanzania, Mauritius
This is most certainly the ‘Group of Death’ at this year’s tournament. Defending champions Zambia will have an almost new squad at this years’ competition, but they have traditionally done well at the Metropolitan COSAFA Under-20 Youth Championships and just seem to churn out top footballers year after year. South Africa has some experience in their squad and is likely to do better than last year when they did not win a match. East African guests Tanzania is something of an unknown quantity but is likely to be a strong side, while Mauritius have been steadily improving over the last few years and could have a say about who finishes top of the pool.
Group D: Angola, Madagascar, Namibia, Zimbabwe
Another very tough pool to call which includes three of last year’s semi-finalists in it. Namibia lost in the final to Zambia but was excellent throughout, while Zimbabwe beat Madagascar to third place and both those sides will likely be strong again. Angola have always produced excellent young players and cannot be discounted either. The mix of team styles will make this a fascinating pool too.Courtesy of COSAFA Media Office