Bafana get easy way into Cosafa semis

SOUTH Africa have potentially been given an easier path into the semifinals of the 2013 Cosafa Cup in Zambia after the withdrawal from the regional tournament of Equatorial Guinea.

Equatorial Guinea announced last week they will not take part in the tournament, citing financial constraints.

Their withdrawal reduced South Africa's potential quarterfinal opponents from four to three, with Gordon Igesund's side set to take on the winner of Group A in Lusaka on July 13.

The pool will now be contested by three teams - Namibia, Mauritius and the Seychelles - with the Brave Warriors under new coach Ricardo Mannetti heavily tipped to top the group.

South Africa have played Namibia on three occasions in the Cosafa Cup, with a win, a draw and a defeat to show for it.

They have also met Mauritius on four occasions, with three wins against one defeat, while their only meeting with the Seychelles resulted in a 3-0 victory.

Igesund has said he will be sending the "strongest possible" squad to the tournament.

That will likely not include Orlando Pirates players as they are involved in a Caf Champions League group phase match against AC Leopards of Congo on July 21.

But Kaizer Chiefs manager Bobby Motaung has said the club will not stand in their players' way if they want to take part in the competition.

Should South Africa advance from their quarterfinals, they will take on the winner of the tie between hosts Zambia and Mozambique in the last-four stage. The tournament kicks off on July 6, with the final to be played on July 20 in Lusaka.