This year’s COSAFA cup, while still under way, has proven to be quite the thriller and providing ample fuel for water-cooler conversation. The dominance of minnow nations in this year’s competition has been one of those exciting surprises to watch unfold.
Botswana booked their place in the 2015 Cosafa Cup semi-finals after defeating South Africa 7-6 on penalty shootout at the Moruleng Stadium on Sunday evening. The Zebras join Namibia, who beat defending champions Zambia in the first quarterfinal, in the final four.
Although they enjoyed most of the ball possession and the right noises from the home crowd, the more fancied Bafana did not do much with the privilege.
Botswana goalkeeper Kabelo Dambe made the first save of the match in the 10th minute, when he punched away Bafana Bafana forward Carl Lark’s powerful shot from the right.
Five minutes later, Platinum Stars winger, Tlou Segolela dribbled past Botswana captain Ofentse Nato and then burst into the box, but his well-taken cross was headed way from danger by defender Obuile Ncenga. The Zebras gained confidence going forward as the game progressed, and they were awarded a free-kick on the right-hand side in the 26th minute.
The resultant set-piece was unconvincingly punched away by Bafana goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane, and Botswana striker Omaatla Kebatho reacted quickly inside the box, hitting the ball just over the cross bar.
The game could have ended within regulation time had the referee not waved away claims of a penalty by the Zebras in the dying minutes of the game.
The Zebras were denied the opportunity after a harsh tackle on Hendrick Moyo inside the penalty area by Bafana Bafana’s right-back Siyabonga Nhlapo. The match then went for the nerve-wrecking spot-kicks where Bafana’s forward Carl Lark missed the first penalty before their goal-keeper stabilized the tension after saving Hendrick Moyo’s attempt.
Bafana’s fate was sealed when Maritzburg United’s, Kwanda Mngonyama’s penalty bounced off the post, confirming their exit from the title race.
Namibia advanced to the Cosafa Cup semi-finals by beating holders Zambia 5-4 on penalties following a barren 90 minutes in their encounter. Madagascar humbled guest side Ghana thanks to an extraordinary winner in the last minute of the match at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace on Monday night. It means Thursday’s semi-finals will see Madagascar play Namibia and Botswana against Mozambique.