Notoane attempts to pick up the pieces against Uganda in Cosafa Plate competition
South Africa let a late lead slip to bow out of the Cosafa Cup after a penalty shoot-out defeat to Botswana on Sunday‚ but all is not lost for coach David Notoane as they prepare to face Uganda in the semifinals of the Plate competition on Tuesday.
Strikes from Luther Singh and Grant Margeman had South Africa cruising‚ but their largely Under-23 selection showed their naivety to concede two almost identical headed goals from set-pieces in the 2-2 draw.
Botswana claimed the lottery of penalties and advance in the Cup competition‚ but in truth not much changes for Notoane and the ambitions at the competition.
This COSAFA Cup was always about giving his squad game-time ahead of their African Under-23 Championship qualifier against Zimbabwe in September‚ and they will get that opportunity on Tuesday‚ and perhaps in Friday’s Plate final if they advance.
“Naturally we are disappointed.
"We had the game 2-0 up in the first half‚ we could have taken the moments we created‚ a third goal would have killed it off.
"They [Botswana] overloaded the midfield with their wide players coming into the pockets‚” Notoane said.
“We saw that going into the break‚ we fixed it‚ but we were still pushed a little bit onto the back foot in the second half.
"But we said to the boys that it means when we come out on the transitions‚ the space will be there‚ so let’s find the pass to kill off the game‚ which we didn’t.
“We knew we could only lose the game on set-plays in terms of conceding and that is exactly what happened. So I hope the boys take good lessons from this game.”
It was certainly a game of two halves for South Africa‚ dominant in the first and far more hesitant and lacking in tempo in the second.
Notoane does not feel that complacency set in‚ but that rather other factors came into play.
“I don’t think it was complacency‚ it was more about game management‚" he said.
"We were dealing with players that were three weeks on a break‚ so from a physical point we always knew it would be their [Botswana] advantage.
“They dominated us [physically]. We brought on [Zakhele] Lepasa‚ the first time he plays with the group‚ but he was a little bit easily pushed off the ball.
"But with one or two moments of clinical passing of the ball‚ we could have scored a third goal.
“It was more inexperience. The last few minutes I was shouting to the Kamohelo Mahlatsi to take the ball to the corner and keep it there. But he is a young lad‚ he plays with exuberance‚ he sees an opportunity to score and cuts inside to put in a nice ball.
“They play on the counter-attack‚ they get a corner-kick‚ their specialty‚ and it is very difficult to defend those.”
Notoane has suggested he will make changes for Tuesday’s Plate semi with The Cranes‚ which will be staged at the Princess Magogo Stadium at 17h00.