Bafana finally get their act together to reach consolation Cosafa Cup final
The depth of South African football got a positive airing on Tuesday as a rag-tag side‚ literally thrown together from available stock‚ overcame Botswana 2-0 in the Cosafa Castle Cup at the Moruleng Stadium and will get to play one more match on Friday.
Stuart Baxter made eight changes after the unimpressive showing of his team in Sunday’s quarter-final against Tanzania‚ where they were dumped out of the running for the main trophy and into the secondary plate competition.
They are now into the consolation final against either Namibia or Swaziland on Friday (kick off 5pm)‚ also at Moruleng Stadium.
Exciting young talent like Nduduzo Sibiya‚ Thabo Cele and man of the match Lebohang Maboe showed potential as they outplayed a near full-strength Botswana side and extend to 12 matches South Africa’s unbeaten record against their near neighbours.
South Africa play Botswana again twice more in the CHAN-201 qualifiers on July 15 and 22 and Tuesday's defeat will be more of a blow to the Zebras’ psyche than anything else.
They were desperate to win and their coach Oris Radipotsane blamed the officiating‚ perhaps missing the point of his own side’s inability to take their chances‚ particularly at set pieces with their superior strength and height. Botswana had a real chance inside the opening 120 seconds with their first attack as they caught the home defence and exposed debutant goalkeeper Bruce Bvuma.
But the Kaizer Chiefs custodian came out to partially block the effort from Lempoye Tshireletso although it needed Mario Booysen‚ scrambling back‚ to clear off the line.
Four minutes later Tshireletso had another chance after a defensive slip as Booysen stumbled and Bvuma found himself well out of goal but again managed to block the effort.
The extent of Botswana’s desire to end their winless run of 11 past internationals against their southern neighbours without success was shown by the viciousness of some of their tackles‚ on occasion potentially bone crushing and saw them pick up two early cautions.
But after seeing off the initial storm‚ the young South Africa began to play with Sibiya initialing chances from the midfield as he saw off his early nerves and began to dictate matters.
It was a superb set of passes between Sibiya‚ Cele and Mohau Mokate that set up Riyad Norodien for a cracking strike on goal that secured the lead after 33 minutes.
Cole Alexander came on and almost scored with his first touch as he forced Botswana into an error with a quick burst of pace in the first real chance of the second half.
Botswana’s best effort followed soon from centreback Simsani Mathumo‚ whose driving effort thundered towards goals and looked for all money like an equaliser until Bvuma came up with a splendid save.
As Botswana piled forward in search of a late equaliser‚ the home side had chances on the counter and eventually Judas Moseamedi scored two minutes into stoppage time to seal a positive night for local football.