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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Hosts South Africa steal three points from Botswana in COSAFA Cup opener despite underwhelming performance

Both sides needed a fair amount of time to get settled into the match with South Africa’s last second squad adjustments and Botswana more than willing to draw Bafana Bafana in before countering. South Africa pressed high and had the majority of the ball in the early stages but failed to generate much in the way of opportunities with Botswana’s strong center back pairing of Thatayaone Ditlhokwe and Mosha Gaolaolwe eager to snuff out attacks. Despite dominating possession, the hosts failed to produce any shots on goal in the first half.

As the opening stanza progressed, Botswana produced a couple of chances in quick succession starting in the 30th minute. Orapa United left back Mothusi Johnson was the standout player, displaying an adventurous mindset while attacking down the flank, and he generated the first clear shooting opportunity when he cut the ball inside to an onrushing Segolame Boy. The Township Rollers playmaker’s curling shot was kept out for a corner kick by South Africa keeper Veli Mothwa before the ensuing corner kick resulted in a header that was cleared off the line before resulting in a shot inside the box for Gape Mohutsiwa on the rebound, whose effort had Mothwa scrambling but went over the bar.

After the break the general theme continued for the opening 15 minutes of the second half with speculative long range efforts being the best either team could come up with. However, the action picked up after 60 minutes and Botswana came the closest they would come to a goal in the 65th minute when a cross was headed dangerously back into their own penalty area by the Bafana defense, where striker Thatayaone Kgamanyane connected cleanly on a volley that slammed off the crossbar with Mothwa beaten.

Botswana would come out disappointed on the day when South Africa finally got a shot on target in the 67th minute that made the difference. A long ball found substitute Kagiso Malinga on the left side of the Zebras’ penalty area. From the most difficult of angles, Malinga took a hopeful low shot and the ball snuck under Botswana keeper Ezekiel Morake for a winning goal that bailed out South Africa’s disappointing performance and three points that Bafana will not complain about obtaining.

Highlights of the match are below.