Bafana held by Mozambique in COSAFA opener as Botswana share spoils with Eswatini

Bafana Bafana were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw against Mozambique in the COSAFA Cup opening match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Tuesday evening.

The hosts, South Africa squandered a 1-0 lead with the captain Rushwin Dortley rattling in the opener in the 39th minute after the Mambas put up a strong defense throughout the first half.

Mozambique then leveled the scoreline in the 65th minute with Chamito Alfandega scoring the second goal of the competition.

Meanwhile, earlier on the day, Botswana's Zebras and Eswatini's Sihlangu Semnikati played out a draw, setting the stage for a COSAFA Cup tournament.

Today's results keep Group A wide open with all four teams having secured a point each in their opening matches.

Bafana Bafana coach Helman Mkhalele believes that they exerted control over the first half, however, they failed to sustain their performance in the second half.

MKHALELE SAYS THEY FAILED TO MAINTAIN FIRST HALF’S PERFORMANCE IN THE SECOND HALF

“They tried in the first half, we dominated and we created a lot of clear chances more than them,’’ said Mkhalele after the game.

“Came second half, I think we lost shape in defending our lead. We started to go out there losing the shape in terms of trying to go and win the ball in their half.

“Then we left openings that they [Mozambique] exploited very well.”

On the other hand, Mozambique coach Victor Matine says it was a game of two halves. He feels South Africa dominated the first 45 minutes while his side made improvements in the second half.

MOZAMBIQUE COACH SAYS IT WAS A GAME OF TWO HALVES

“We played, we kept possession and we changed our strikers, so those changes gave us a good strategy for this game,” said Matine.

“The first half, it was for South Africa and this result its good for both teams. First half, they dominated the game while in the second half, it was compact, we didn’t give them the space.

“We started playing from the back, what we were not doing in the first half.”

Despite salvaging a point in their COSAFA Cup opener, Eswatini coach Sfiso Lucky Ntibane expressed disappointment with the draw. He felt his team deserved more, lamenting their missed opportunities and calling for a winning mentality in upcoming matches.

ESWATINI MENTOR NTIBANE FEELS THEY DESERVED MORE THAN A POINT

“A win would taste much better but we will take the point,” said Ntibane.

“We’ve assembled a new team, a group of young boys who’ve got potential. So, I’m happy with their performance, they expressed themselves fully.

“We were just unlucky not to win this game, we created a number of chances, that’s why their goalkeeper got a Man of the Match because he made a lot of crucial saves. But we will analyse the performance and take the positives going forward to the Mozambique game, another tough game.”

Botswana coach Didier Gomes acknowledged his team's shortcomings today. He admitted they were fortunate not to lose, crediting their goalkeeper for coming to the rescue.

BOTSWANA COACH GOMES ADMITS HIS SIDE WAS LACKING

“We started the match very well, we had two or three opportunities to score and after we conceded one opportunity, the match changed,” said Gomes. 

“They dominated us in the first half, they move a lot between the lines. They have a very dynamic frontline. So, it was necessary to change the system in the halftime.

“That’s why we played the second half with the 4-4-2. We were better and we had some opportunities. But for sure we were lacking today to be frank and the goalkeeper was good he saved us.”

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Nkosiyabuya Sithole

Nkosiyabuya Sithole, a young and rising sports journalist based in Durban, South Africa, harbors a deep passion for football. Nevertheless, he aspires to become a well-rounded journalist, adept in various areas of the field.

Nkosi's career began in 2020, working as a home-based writer during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has since written for various websites, including Briefly News, FiND-iT News, and The South African. Attending live sporting events is a particular pleasure for him, as they provide opportunities for interaction with sports personalities.

Outside of the office, he's a God-fearing and affable young man.