Photo Credit: COSAFA Media
South Africa are in excellent shape to win Group A at the 2023 COSAFA Cup after coming back from a goal down to defeat neighbors Botswana 2-1 on Saturday. Thatayaone Kgamanyane opened the scoring for Botswana against the run of play but the response was rapid from Bafana Bafana who found goals from Iqraam Rayners and Shaune Mogaila to surge back and claim three points. South Africa, at the top of the group with four points, will finish against Eswatini while Botswana are still in contention to advance ahead of a clash with Namibia.
Bafana Bafana were the more dangerous side in the first half but the Zebras were a threat on the counter and stayed in the match thanks to strong goalkeeping from Lesenya Malapela. Malapela came up with excellent saves to deny Rayners on two occasions in the 25th and 42nd minutes and was a bit fortunate in the 41st minute when his errant punch attempt went right to Tshegofatso Mabasa who fired over an empty net.
After holding out Botswana struck in the 63rd minute through Kgamanyane who latched onto a bouncing ball over the top from Olebogeng Ramotse and left Bafana keeper rooted to the spot with a low finish inside the far post. It all went downhill from there for the Zebras.
Less than three minutes later Malapela and defender Tebogo Kopelang got mixed up on a routine ball towards goal and after Malapela missed his attempt to make a play, Kopelang was issued a direct red card after dragging down Bafana forward Victor Letsoalo to deny a clear goal scoring opportunity. Rayners stepped up and sent the resulting penalty kick low down the middle to beat Malapela.
Right after the equalizer from Rayners, Bafana took the lead through Mogaila after an incisive pass from Rowan Human deflected kindly into the path of the Royal AM player. Botswana managed to create a couple of chances despite the numerical disadvantage but Bafana held out for an important bounce back victory after drawing Namibia in their opening match.
Highlights of the match from COSAFA TV are below.