Cosafa Cup: Wasteful Bafana pay price as Mozambique grab the semi-final ticket

Bafana Bafana were aware anything less than a win could have led to their elimination from the annual Cosafa Cup after initial draws against Mozambique and Botswana respectively.

A perfect start at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium allowed the 2024 hosts to pin Eswatini in their own half, which resulted in a corner inside the first three minutes. Malebogo Modise took it well, and the unmarked Thabang Sibanyoni rose highest to head the ball home.

It was a shocking start for Sihlangu Semnikati who reacted by increasing their tempo, as the Helman Mkhalele-led team continued to push forward.

Eswatini finally settled, eventually finding the back of the net in the 28th minute courtesy of Ayanda Gadlela who rounded Mondli Mpoto before hitting the target. However, his celebrations were cut short by an assistant referee's offside flag, despite replays suggesting otherwise.

Moments before the break, South Africa wasted a glorious opportunity to double the advantage but Ashley Cupido shot straight at the oncoming goalkeeper with the defenders well beaten.

South Africa were determined to get the second goal even after the break, but they struggled to get past Eswatini's defense. The few chances they got were not fully utilized which could have cost them in the 61st minute. 

A cross from the right was missed by Mpoto, leaving Andy Magagula with the easiest of tasks – guiding the ball into an empty net. He, somehow, missed the bull's eye from just six yards out much to the relief of Bafana players and the fans.

Cupido should have done better in the 73rd minute when Thabang Matuludi picked him 12 yards out, but his feeble shot was comfortably saved by the Eswatini custodian.

Mozambique vs Eswatini

Mozambique frustrate Mzansi fans

Mozambique came from a goal down at the Wolfson Stadium to beat 10-man Botswana 3-1 and beat South Africa to the semi-final slot.

Tebogo Kopelang gave the Zebras a 20th-minute lead which gave them hope of making it to the next stage. Botswana were then reduced to 10 players when Olebogeng Ramotse was sent off for a second bookable offense in the 44th minute.

Os Mambas used their numerical advantage well, eventually getting an equalizer moments before the break when Dario Melo assisted Momed Ferreira.

The provider became the scorer in the 66th minute when he managed to coolly slot home, from a Valter Dauce's effort and send his team through. Joao Candido put the icing on the cake with a late strike to ensure his team won comfortably.

Bafana are now out of the competition since they stand no chance of advancing as a second best-placed team in all three groups. 

Cosafa Cup: Wasteful Bafana pay price as Mozambique grab the semi-final ticket
Willis Sob

Willis Sob is an experienced journalist who has been in the game since 2009, covering major assignments around the continent.
His hunger for African football is unmatched, always getting the best angles and facts to feed the fans and quench their thirst.