Cosafa Cup semis too tight to call

Sello Rabothata and Mesh Khotha

Sello Rabothata and Mesh Khotha

It's all systems go for the Cosafa Castle Cup semifinals, but it's anybody's guess as to which of the four national teams is better prepared for the occasion.

The southern African tournament's last four are due to battle it out at Super Stadium in Atteridgeville, tomorrow.

The first game sees Zambia and Mozambique square off at 2pm with the local Bafanas coming up against the Zebras of Botswana in a 4pm kickoff.

That it has not been an easy week for Bafana Bafana coach, Carlos Alberto Parreira, would be an understatement - it has been the worst of his long coaching life.

Parreira goes into this game as an underdog because he now has a team he never selected and can only cross his fingers and hope for the best.

Six of the players he originally had were pulled out because of club commitments.

New faces in the absence of the Kaizer Chiefs and Moroka Swallows players are Platinum Stars' goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands, Orlando Pirates defender Innocent Mdledle and Jomo Cosmos defender Thapelo "Super Glue" Tshilo.

But, be that as it may, the coaches of the four countries were optimistic of their chances despite the gloomy outlook from their statements on their prospects of reaching the final on October 27 here in Mzansi.

Parreira criticised the South African soccer authorities for not showing more concern in his quest to shape up Bafana Bafana for the 2010 World Cup.

"We are hosting the World Cup in two-and-a-half years and people don't seem to understand the urgency in preparing the team for it," said Parreira.

The Zebras' head coach, Colnyn Rowe, said: "Our game against Bafana Bafana is going to be tough because they are playing with professionals,'' adding that his team consists of only three professionals but had a good run in the Sasol Eight Nations' tournament earlier in the year with their Under-23s.

Last year's winners' coach Fighton Simukondabia of Zambia remarked: "We are here to defend our title.''

Mozambique's assistant coach Miguel Chau said:

"We have trained hard for this competition and hope to win the final in October.''