Bafana have a chance to salvage something from their COSAFA Cup campaign. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

POLOKWANE  Bafana Bafana will be hoping to produce an improved performance to finish the tournament on a high when they face Botswana in the Cosafa Cup plate final at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium, in Polokwane, on Friday evening. The match kicks off at 5pm. Bafana, as one of the seeded teams, entered the tournament at the quarterfinal stage when they lost to Madagascar on penalties on June 3. That sent the host nation to the plate semifinal, and South Africa produced a much improved result with a 4-1 win over Namibia on Tuesday. Bafana coach Stuart Baxter said he expected a challenge from Botswana.

“Botswana played well against Zimbabwe, they played very well to go through and have also battled because they have had plenty of games – but then again playing matches helps you gel a little bit, you find a rhythm, which hopefully we have found now,” said Baxter.

“You get the lads together and you play a game, you try to play a friendly game in between, and it's just not the same. You go into your first game hoping they will find each other, and it’s a big ask. The second game was better, hopefully the third game will be a little bit better.”

Bafana will be without the suspended Fortune Makaringe – who received two cautions in the last two matches. Makaringe made his debut against Madagascar and also walked away with the Man of the Match award in that clash.

“We will definitely make that change (Makaringe) and will later maybe give the younger ones a bit more of a run. Since it’s the end of the season, there may be fatigue but the inspiration and motivation of wanting to play will take over. I am happy there was a good mood in the dressing room, in fact more like satisfaction because they gave a better performance and the result was better."

Also not in the squad is Gift Motupa who has been released from the tournament due to a family bereavement. In 13 meetings, there have been nine wins for South Africa and four draws.  Botswana have played four games in the tournament, starting in the first round group stages – they beat Angola, Malawi and Mauritius, but went down to Zimbabwe on penalties in the quarterfinals. Lesotho will take on Madagascar in the 3rd/4th place play-off in a later kick-off (7.30pm) on Friday evening. In a repeat of the 2017 final, Zimbabwe and Zambia will contest for the ultimate prize on Saturday, at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium.  

African News Agency (ANA)

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