15 July 2013
Bafana Bafana advanced to the semi-finals of the 2013 Cosafa Cup after a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Namibia at a packed Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka, Zambia on Saturday.
South Africa will next face the hosts, Zambia, after Chipolopolo defeated Mozambique 3-1 on Sunday.
The match was decided by second-half goals from Jabulani Shongwe and Hlompho Kekana and was a good result for South Africa after coach Gordon Igesund had to deal with numerous withdrawals in the lead-up to the tournament.
The experience of goalkeeper and captain Wayne Sandilands, along with that of Hlompho Kekana, Lerato Chabangu and Mzikayise Mashaba, gave the team some much-needed direction, while debutants Buhle Mkhwanazi and Tshepo Gumede showed up well.
Igesund also made a move in the first half that proved to be an inspired one when he substituted Sibusiso Khumalo with Ruzaigh Gamildien to give the team a greater attacking edge. Not only did it result in Bafana taking control, but Gamildien ended up being chosen as man of the match.
Shongwe came on at the start of the second half and made his mark just four minutes later as his powerful shot beat the Namibian goalkeeper to give South Africa a one-nil lead.
Kekana’s experience then showed when he collected a ball at the edge of the opposition box to fire home a cracker for a two-nil lead in the 71st minute.
Namibia responded with a rather fortunate penalty, which was awarded against Shongwe, who was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area.
Second-half substitute Willy Stephanus converted it after a retake. Sandilands had saved the initial shot was judged to have moved before the kick was taken. But it was not enough to derail South Africa’s mission to get into the next round.
In an effort to score more goals, Igesund brought on striker Katlego Mashego for the exhausted Chabangu, but the score line remained the same.
“This was game was very important to us because our preparation was not very ideal,” the Bafana Bafana coacdh said after the game.
“Before the start of the match I said to the boys ‘let’s win this match, we will take it from there’.
‘Tough out there’
“We only had two training sessions here in Zambia, but the boys did very well,” Igesund said. “It was tough out there and you could see that we needed to work together more because at times our game was disjointed – the reason being it was the first time this team played together,” he explained.
“We are happy to be in the next round of this tournament, and with more hard work I believe we will get better as a team. It was crucial that we get past the first one.
“The pitch did not make things any easier for the two teams, which made things tougher out there and led to a scrappy match, but I am happy with the result and proud of the boys.
‘Passion and commitment’
“They were a bit nervous, but their attitude and passion and commitment was perfect, and they worked hard together. Several players put their hands up, which is what I was looking for.”
Namibia had come into the match with high hopes following back-to-back victories over Mauritius and the Seychelles in their opening matches.
In six meetings, South Africa has now won three times to one victory for the Brave Warriors, with two matches drawn.
‘Very good players’
“It’s always very tough playing against South Africa as they have very good players,” said Namibia coach Ricardo Manneti, who played under Igesund in South Africa a few years ago.
“They really came at us, but also a lack of concentration at vital moments, especially at the back, cost us the match. We should not have let in the goals that we did. Our decision-making at the back was not the best,” Manneti admitted.
“We got a lifeline with a late penalty and tried to pile on the pressure, but the goals did not come.”
Bafana Bafana play their next match at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola on Wednesday, with kick-off at 8pm.
SAinfo reporter and South African Football Association