Bafana power past Mozambique to reach Cosafa Cup final against Senegal

Njabulo Ngcobo of South Africa is challenged by Nilton Ernesto of Mozambique in the Cosafa Cup semifinal at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha on July 16, 2021.
Njabulo Ngcobo of South Africa is challenged by Nilton Ernesto of Mozambique in the Cosafa Cup semifinal at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha on July 16, 2021.
Image: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images

Bafana Bafana put in a strong showing to power 3-0 past Mozambique in their Cosafa Cup semifinal at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday night, and reach their fifth final of the regional tournament.

SA, who have often underperformed in the competition, have also never lost when they have managed to reach a Cosafa final. They will compete to lift their fifth trophy in Sunday’s final against guest team Senegal, who beat Eswatini on penalties in the earlier semifinal.

SA, whose performances improved winning three games and drawing one to top Group A unbeaten and without conceding, kept another clean sheet and scored two fine goals.

Njabulo Ngcobo, Kaizer Chiefs’ highly-rated new centreback signed from Swallows FC, rose to head in Bafana’s 24th-minute opener. The promising Sekhukhune United midfielder Yusuf Maart was again strong in central midfield, capping a man-of-the-match performance by adding a spectacular second with a swerving strike in the 59th.

At times, and especially in the second half, Bafana turned on the style. They were technically stronger and had the quicker thinking, movement and organisation than a Mozambique who were perhaps the most polished combination faced by SA yet, but who were ultimately outplayed.

SA had to work hard to earn a 1-0 lead by the break.

The Mamelodi Sundowns centreback Rushine de Reuck, so solid in the matches in Gqerberha, made a rare mistake giving the ball away to midfielder Joaquim Mapangane early on.

New Orlando Pirates signing from Free State Stars Monnapule Saleng has been a consistent handful in Cosafa. He earned a free-kick on the left being fouled by Joao Pelembe halfway to the break.

From Siyethemba Sithembe’s delivery Ngcobo got above his marker, the big centreback Pelembe, and steered a header past goalkeeper Ernan for the opener.

From Sphelele Mkhulise’s corner De Reuck won a header that took a deflection to force a save from Ernan.

Veli Mothwa was called into action as Mozambique pushed for an equaliser returning from the change rooms. SA consolidated effectively, holding the Mambas to half-chances, and then struck in the other direction.

Maart started and ended the goal. Winning a strong challenge in midfield he set free the run of left-back Sifiso Ngobeni, to set up Victor Letsoalo forcing a save from Ernan. Maart again won the rebound back off Adamo Alifa on the edge of the box and cured a delightful strike into the top-right corner.

Two-nil up, SA turned on some style. Mkhukise’s chip put Saleng in to shoot wide. Ngobeni’s cross found the header of Letsoalo, onto the top netting.

The pressure resulted in a penalty conceded by the Mambas as Mapangane clattered down Letsoalo, who easily struck low past Ernan.