JOHANNESBURG - Last year’s Cosafa Cup finalists, South Africa and Botswana, will lock horns in Tuesday's Plate semi-final at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium (kick off 4.45pm), after both sides failed to progress to the last four of the tournament.
Defending champions, Bafana Bafana, suffered a 1-0 defeat to winners of Group A, Tanzania, in a quarter-final clash on Sunday, while Botswana were subjected to a 2-1 defeat by Zambia on the same evening.
Bafana’s head coach, Stuart Baxter, expressed his regret regarding the defeat.
"I’m disappointed in the result and also on the fact that no one really raised up their hands,” Baxter said. “The only player whom I believe put his hand up, was Riyaad Norodien. He played really well.
“Every defeat is a setback for us,” Baxter added. “But if you were to look at the bigger picture, and ask yourself: ‘Is this a devastating blow for us or just a disappointing evening,' then in my view, it was a disappointing evening.”
Baxter will hope his Bafana side will be more clinical in front of goal against the Zebras, as this was not the case in their first match of the tournament against the Taifa Stars.
In that encounter, Bafana created numerous scoring opportunities but failed to capitalise on them, as the likes of Cole Alexander, Judas Moseamedi and Liam Jordan fluffed chance after chance in front of goal.
And though South Africa failed to defend their cup title as the host nation in this year’s edition, Baxter said it was crucial for his technical team not to lose their heads after such a disappointing result.
“Again, looking at games like these, you’ve got to keep a little bit of your composure and not act out on your disappointment by bringing in (experienced) players such as ‘Shabba’ (Siphiwe Tshabalala) and ‘Yeye’ (Reneilwe Letsholonyane), who are not going to benefit Bafana in the future. And so, it’s very important that we keep ourselves composed," he added.
"It’s disappointing not to have come out with the desired result. However, we’ve got to look at it and ask ourselves which of the young boys have proven that they can handle the pressure of playing for Bafana going forward.”
Meanwhile, Kaizer Chiefs defender, Lorenzo Gordinho, also expressed his disappointment at the 1-0 defeat.
“We just have to keep on moving forward,” Gordinho said. “We can’t afford to dwell on the past. It’s a new day where we’ll be given a chance to rectify our wrongs with a good performance. We are hoping to get a good result and progress to the next round, which is the final.”
If Bafana beat the Zebras on Tuesday afternoon, they’ll lock horns with either Swaziland or Namibia on Friday in the Plate final.