Bafana Bafana caretaker coach Morena Ramoreboli was delighted with back-to-back wins that put the South Africa men’s soccer team in a strong position in Group A in the COSAFA Cup this week.
South Africa head their pool after the victory on Tuesday against Botswana was followed by another by the same scoreline against eSwatini on Thursday thanks to a lone goal from Thabang Sibanyoni.
“It was another difficult game, I have been saying to them (the players) that when you play countries in the SADC region they want to beat us because they know scouts are here, and they might earn some contracts,” Ramoreboli said.
“They come fighting with everything, but I am proud of the character and commitment that we saw from the boys. I still believe we will be better as the tournament progresses. I am excited to work with such a wonderful group.
“We knew they will be throwing a lot of high balls into our box and we had to deal with that. We did that well, and it was also a bonus for us when they got a red card (for Felix Badenhorst) because it allowed us to change the game and play more with a 4-4-2.
“This is one tournament where you know it will be difficult to get the three points through open play. Sometimes you need to steal it through a substitution because the game-plan might have to change.”
Bafana have a rest and are next in action against Lesotho on Tuesday, before they face Zambia in a potentially crucial clash the very next day.
“In the next match we should have everybody (fit), we have tried to get four more players into the squad and when we play Lesotho we will have all our players ready.”
Meanwhile, Zambia will set out to bounce back from an opening defeat when they square up against eSwatini at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.
Similarly, eSwatini will aim to get back to winning ways after they were handed their loss of the tournament in their last outing.
Zambia suffered a disappointing 2-1 loss at the hands of Lesotho on Thursday to kick off their COSAFA Cup title defence.
Milutin Sredojevic’s men went into the interval with a slender lead courtesy of Justin Shonga’s strike, but a second-half brace from Sera Motebang turned the game on its head.
Chipolopolo occupy fourth spot in Group A as things stand, ahead of bottom-placed Botswana on more goals scored.
Next up for them is a chance to get off the mark against an eSwatini side in a game where they will be considered as favourites once again.
In three previous meetings, Zambia are yet to taste defeat although they have only won on one occasion which was a 1-0 triumph back in 2008.
However, Sihlangu Semnikati are still in a decent position thanks to an opening day victory against Lesotho as result of which they remain second in Group A.
Having already managed more points than they did in the 2019 tournament, eSwatini now have their sights set on securing qualification into the next round.
Also, eStwani’s Felix Badenhorst recently overtook Peter Ndlovu of Zimbabwe in the tournament’s all-time scoring charts with his ninth goal in the victory over Lesotho on Tuesday.
However, he is suspended for Saturday’s game after he was sent off on the stroke of half time for two bookable offences against South Africa.
Shonga’s opener against Lesotho was his seventh strike for his nation in what was just his 15th international appearance. The 24-year-old forward will be relied upon once again by Zambia as they look to breathe life into their COSAFA Cup campaign. – SuperSport, SportsMole