Bafana Bafana hammer Mozambique to reach Cosafa Cup final
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JOHANNESBURG – Goals from Njabulo Ngcobo, Yusuf Maart and Victor Letsoalo ensured that Bafana Bafana reached the Cosafa Cup final after they hammered Mozambique 3-0 in the semi-finals at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha on Friday evening.
Bafana will compete for gold against invited guests Senegal at the same venue on Sunday afternoon. Senegal needed a 3-0 win via the lottery of penalties against Eswatini to reach the final after the two teams were locked in a 2-all stalemate after 90 minutes.
Regarded as a makeshift Bafana side as they only have local-based players, the South Africans proved that they can get to the final of their own party. But they’ll be hoping to go all the way and claim their first Cosafa title – and fifth overall – since 2016.
After an impressive run in the group stage after winning three games and drawing one to top Group A, Bafana’s character was going to be tested against the Mozambicans who hadn’t enjoy such a purple patch after two wins, one draw and one loss.
Knowing what’s at stake in the knockout stage, caretaker coach Morena Ramoreboli was not taking chances, fielding the same starting line-up that thrashed Lesotho 4-0 in third group stage match – where striker Letsoalo scored a debut hat-trick.
Bafana, though, started slow, with The Mambas looking more confident going forward in the early stages of the match. But it was the resilience of captain and goalkeeper Veli Mothwa that kept the visitors, who were stoking fire early on, at bay.
But with the progression of the game, Bafana started to find their footing in the game. Monnapule Saleng and Victor Letsoalo combined well going forward. As a result, a short pass from Saleng saw Letsoalo fouled in front of the Mozambican's box.
Saleng took the resultant free-kick but his effort crashed against the wall before Ernan Siluane collected with ease. Saleng had a go at Siluane with a diagonal set-piece but the visitors' No. 1 punched the effort back into play, before they regrouped.
But just as they’ve been doing in the group stage, the South Africans found the breakthrough first. Siyethemba Sithebe sent a delightful set-piece before Ngcobo beat his marker in the air to guide his header past a stretched Siluane in the 24th minute.
Siluane didn’t take kindly to his defence’s lapse of concentration, shoving Joaquim Mapangane and captain Nilton Ernesto after the goal. For the rest of the first half, there were no real scoring chances that were created by Bafana or the Mozambicans.
Early in the second half though, Mozambique wanted to catch Mothwa off guard with a diagonal ball but he tracked back and tipped the effort over his crossbar. Bafana, though, continued to pile on the pressure and their efforts duly paid dividends.
Inside the box, Letsoalo teed up Sifiso Ngobeni whose shot was saved by Siluane. But the resultant clearance found Maart, who picked up his spot before his curling effort came off the underside of the crossbar to beat a high-flying Siluane in goals.
But Mpangane made the night even more difficult for his team, conceding a penalty after fouling Letsoalo inside the box. Letsoalo dusted himself off, and calmly sent Siluane the wrong way to become Bafana’s top goal scorer in the tournament with four goals.