Bafana Bafana braced for Mambas clash after a stalemate against Chipolopolo
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CAPE TOWN – South Africa's Bafana Bafana warmed up for Friday's semi-final round with a goalless draw against Zambia's Chipolopolo in their final Cosafa Cup Group A match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in the Eastern Cape on Wednesday afternoon.
The outcome meant South Africa completed their Group A assignments undefeated and will play Group B runners-up Mozambique in Friday's first semi-final.
In Friday's later semi-final, Group B winners will go up against Eswatini, the Group A runners-up.
After the stalemate, Zambia continue to lead the Cosafa Cup head-to-head count 7-5.
South Africa, after four matches, have yet to concede a goal and it has been a long time since Bafana Bafana has enjoyed a run of four matches without defeat at a tournament. They are the only side at the tournament which have yet to concede a goal.
Earning his stripes today for an outstanding performance and receiving the ‘Man of the Match’ award in the game against Zambia is Moegamat Maart 👏🏼👏🏼#COSAFACup2021 @COSAFAMEDIA @SAFA_net pic.twitter.com/9VeusvgiEa— Bafana Bafana (@BafanaBafana) July 14, 2021
The first half ended goalless after both sides spurned goalscoring chances. Zambia, with a 56% possession advantage, had the better opportunities. Their midfielder Salulani Phiri, who plies his trade in South Africa for Polokwane City, was fractionally wide with a header after he outjumped the central defence on the stroke of halftime.
Zambia, the defending champions, managed eight shots on goal, but only half of those were on target. South Africa managed one shot on target after five attempts.
South Africa produced a lively start and forced three corners in the opening 12 minutes. They were penetrative early on, especially down the left flank but failed to bring their front-runners into the picture.
As the half wore on, Zambia managed several sorties deep into South Africa's half but failed to create clear cut chances. Zambia used their fullbacks to good effect by allowing them the freedom to attack down the flanks, and South Africa's defence battled to contain the threat out wide.
In the first half, South Africa's goalkeeper Lincoln Vyver did well to bring off four excellent saves, against a mere one from his opposite number Zambia's Kennedy Mweene, who plays for Mamelodi Sundowns.
At the start of the second half, Mweene made way for substitute Gregory Sanjase. South Africa brought on striker Masilake Phohlongo for Monnapule Saleng.
Zambia continued to enjoy a lion's share of possession and produced several well-worked moves, but they were checked around the fringes of the opposition goalmouth.
Around the hour mark, both sides made a raft of changes, but it failed to break the stalemate. The fresh legs certainly helped speed up play, but both sets of defences kept their lines intact by the time Zimbabwean referee Brighton Chimene blew the final whistle.