Bafana Bafana dismantle Namibia to book a place in Cosafa Cup plate final
Bafana Bafana recovered from their opening quarterfinal defeat against Madagascar at the Cosafa Cup with Tuesday night's somewhat stylish 4-1 Plate semifinal victory against Namibia at Old Peter Mokaba Stadium.
Maphosa Modiba's 25th-minute penalty was followed by Lebohang Maboe's 27th-minute strike.
Deon Hotto pulled one back in the 36th, before Maboe two minutes later, made it 3-1 to SA by the break. Captain Siyanda Xulu made it 4-1 in the 55th.
In the wake of yet another in a long line of disappointing results from Bafana, Sunday's penalties defeat against Madagascar, perhaps a record-low crowd of a few hundred people braved the cold, even with the free entrance.
In this circumstance, and no longer playing with the vague amount of pressure they had faced against Madagsacar, Bafana put on an entertaining performance.
Madagascar, in the game that would make or break SA's tournament, sat back. Namibia did not. And in an open game the skilful Bafana players flourished.
A vastly-changed XI also benefited from a more aggressive gameplan from coach Stuart Baxter, as they imposed themselves, rather than sitting back and waiting to transition, as SA had against Madagascar.
Baxter brought in Siyabonga Ngezana at right-back, with Siyanda Xulu moved to centreback.
Wiseman Meyiwa came into central midfield, with Lebohang Maboe pushed up to deep striker behind centre-forward Ryan Moon. The impressive Egypt-based Gift Links, of Alasiouty Sport, came in on the left and Siphesihle Ndlovu was pushed out to the right as Baxter reverted to a more conventional 4-4-1-1.
This is the kind of football South African representative teams can play. Their pace and quickness of interchanges can be difficult to contend with.
Unfortunately, something similar had been needed against Madagascar for this tournament to not be already publicly perceived as a failure for Bafana.
They can go a long way to making up for that with another, as convincing performance, in Saturday's Plate final.
Bafana were on the front foot to establish dominance from the start.
In the 24th Modiba's kick found the arm of Namibia right-back Vitapi Ngaruka, referee Celso Alvacao pointing to the spot. Modiba stepped up to slot to the left of Mbaeva.
Moon's flick-on two minutes later found Maboe free on the right to stab under Mbaeva.
Namibia's response came from a clever chip lifted over the Bafana defence, as Hotto times his run to beat offside and finish low past Mbaeva.
Within two minutes though, Bafana's two-goal cushion was restored when Links played in to Meyiwa on the left of the Namibia area, who squared for Maboe to slot his brace.
Ten minutes into the second half Modiba's free-kick from the right found the head of Madisha to force a save from Mbaeva, Xulu sweeping in the rebound.
In the last 10 minutes two substitutes, Jamie Webber with the cross ands Lyle Foster with a looping header tipped over by Mbaeva, combined for a late chance.
Foster then steered a goal across the face narrowly wide.
* Marc Strydom is in Polokwane as a guest of Cosafa