Bafana crashes out of Cosafa

July 2 2017 – Bafana Bafana crashed out of the 2017 COSAFA Cup when they were defeated 1-0 by Tanzania in their quarterfinal at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Sunday night. Tanzania led 1-0 at half-time.

With this competition not part of the FIFA calendar, clubs are not obligated to release their players. As such, it is usually used for players on the fringes and for the coach to experiment a bit – and Bafana’s coach Stuart Baxter did so by handing no less than eight players their first start in an SA national jersey.

Bafana got off to a great start and dominated possession and territory in the opening stages. Cole Alexander was pulling the strings in midfield and, on one occasion, his run and pass provided an opening for Liam Jordan, but the young attacker’s effort was saved by Tanzanian goalkeeper Aishi Manula.

South Africa were then rather unfortunate not to take the lead when the energetic Judas Moseamedi dashed through to the score, but the referee disallowed the goal for off-side.

With Bafana not able to make the most of their opportunities, Tanzania hit back with a fine goal at the other end, with Elias Maguri latching on to a fine pass and hoofing a shot beyond debutant goalkeeper Boalefa Pule.

Just before the break, Moseamedi had a chance, but missed because he tried the spectacular rather than stick to the basics.

Down at half-time, the South Africans had no choice but to come out hard in search of an equaliser. Ten minutes in to the second period, Bafana had a great opportunity with Alexander’s late run into the area, but the midfielder couldn’t get the touch he needed to steer the ball goal-bound.

With 30 minutes to go, Baxter looked to his bench for some inspiration, with Jordan coming off to be replaced by Mohau Mokate. And the substitute was very nearly into immediate action when Jamie Webber’s floated cross came in, but Manula made a timely intervention to prevent the ball reaching Mokate.

Bafana continued to pile on the pressure, but they just lacked the composure and finesse required in the final third. Moseamedi squandered a header from a Riyaad Norodien corner and Mokate failed to react quickly enough when Moseamedi’s hard work opened up the Tanzanians. Moments before full-time, Bafana should have levelled when Webber’s cross found Lorenzo Gordinho, but the defender skied the ball over the bar.

In the end, it was disappointing defeat for a make-shift South African side, though their inexperience was rather glaring on the day. – ANA