Photo by Samuel Shivambu via BackpagePix
Hosts South Africa encountered little resistance or difficulty in booking their spot in the 2021 COSAFA Cup final with a victory against Mozambique on Saturday. Njabulo Ngcobo, Yusuf Maart and Victor Lesoalo all scored for Bafana Bafana as the tournament favorites were efficient and ruthless in punishing the mistakes of the Mambas throughout the 90 minutes.
Mozambique offered little on the attacking end with the trend continuing of the Mambas struggling when it came to displaying any sharpness in the final third. Unfortunately, the high standard of defending the young squad showed was not evident on Saturday either. In the 18th minute the hosts started peppering the Mozambique defense when a free kick from Monnapule Saleng was deflected and Mozambique keeper Ernane Siluane had to be sharp to take the ball in without conceding a rebound.
The breakthrough for Bafana Bafana occurred in the 24th minute. An inswinging free kick from the left wing off Siyethemba Sithebe found center back Ngcobo, who got his head to the service and flicked a precise header past Siluane just inside the far post. Bafana Bafana took a 1-0 lead into halftime courtesy of Ngcobo’s goal as Mozambique struggled to generate any concrete opportunities despite their fair share of forays into South Africa’s third.
Mozambique attempted to try a more attacking approach with nothing to lose coming out of halftime, but South Africa increased their efficiency and punished some poor defending. The match was all but over in the 60th minute when Bafana found their second goal. Letsaolo moved down the left wing and put in a low cross that found Sifiso Ngobeni. Ngobeni’s shot was well saved by Siluane, but eventually Maart collected the ball on the left corner of the penalty area and cut inside before unleashing a beautiful curler of a shot to the far post. Siluane got his fingertips to the ball but could only parry it off the inside of the post before the ball bounced in.
In the 73rd minute South Africa added one more to complete a decisive victory when Letsaolo was clumsily scythed down in the penalty area by Joaquim Mapangane. Letsaolo then stepped up and sent his spot kick down the middle to make it 3-0 and score his tournament leading fourth goal, having scored the first ever hat trick for South Africa earlier in the competition against Lesotho. It was smooth sailing from then on as the hosts will face guest side Senegal in the final to decide the 2021 COSAFA Cup champion.
Highlights of Bafana Bafana’s win are below.