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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Bafana Bafana take advantage of red card to Eswatini to make it two wins from two games

South Africa’s performances have not been terribly convincing in the 2021 COSAFA Cup, but a Bafana Bafana side featuring many young talent and players earning their first appearances got the job done again in their 1-0 win over Eswatini on Thursday. It is now an ideal six points from two matches for South Africa as they are in control of Group A while Eswatini miss out on an opportunity to improve upon their positive winning start against Lesotho on the opening day.

It was once again a struggle for South Africa to generate good chances in the first half as they failed to utilize superior possession into anything particularly meaningful on the offensive end. Eswatini had their moments when playing directly with attacking stars Fanelo Mamba and all-time COSAFA Cup leading scorer Felix Badenhorst showing promise. However, in an opening half that featured only three shots between the teams, Badenhorst committed a rash challenge in stoppage time that resulted in his second yellow card and expulsion to put Eswatini in trouble.

With a numerical advantage, the opportunity was there for South Africa to surge forward more and Bafana slowly but surely probed the Eswatini defense further as the second half progressed. It was once again a substitute from the South African bench, whose team was managed by under-20 assistant coach Morena Ramoreboli due to positive Covid-19 tests received by two coaches, that made the difference. Five minutes after coming on, Thabang Sibanyoni latched onto a toe poked pass from Monnapule Saleng and finished past Eswatini keeper Ncamiso Dlamini at the near post to put South Africa in front.

Eswatini did manage to carve out a couple of chances to threaten Veli Mothwa in the South Africa goal. A volley from Khethokuhle Mkhontfo went harmlessly over the bar and Mamba sent Sabelo Ndzinisa into space on the break for a shot that was calmly handled by Mothwa. South Africa nearly put the match away in transition when Eswatini were caught out and a cross from the right flank was left for the hero from last match, Kagiso Malinga, but the Swallows FC player’s chipped finish went wide.

In the game’s final moments Eswatini had one more chance to save a point from the match and it was the most dangerous they looked throughout. In the first minute of stoppage time a quick, smart throw-in found Mamba on the left side of the Bafana penalty area, where the 19-year-old created space with his dribbling before chipping a tempting ball across the goalmouth. However, substitute forward Phiwa Dlamini could not quite get a head to the ball and South Africa just held on for the three points.

Highlights of the match are below.