Mothwa saves the day as Bafana clinch Cosafa Cup

Skipper saves penalty, then converts one

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Veli Mothwa (C) of South Africa saves a penality during the COSAFA Cup South Africa 2021, Final match between South Africa and Senegal at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on July 18, 2021 in Gqeberha, South Africa.
Veli Mothwa (C) of South Africa saves a penality during the COSAFA Cup South Africa 2021, Final match between South Africa and Senegal at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on July 18, 2021 in Gqeberha, South Africa.
Image: Michael Sheehan

AmaZulu goalkeeper Veli Mothwa became a hero after saving one spot-kick before scoring to help Bafana Bafana clinch the Cosafa Cup by beating guest participants Senegal 5-4 on penalties at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium yesterday.

The match had finished goalless after extra-time. Senegal goalkeeper Pape N'Diaye ballooned the last spot-kick to give SA the crown. The first stanza never really produced goal-scoring opportunities as both teams played in patches.

Despite having two playmakers in the middle of the field in Siyethemba Sithebe and Siphelele Mkhulise, Bafana still lacked creativity and striker Victor Letsoalo was never supplied with the ball to threaten the Lions of Taranga.

SA defenders Njabulo Ngcobo and Rushine de Reuck showed brilliant tactical awareness whenever Senegal were launching attacks. Pape Djitte and Albert Diene on the left and right flanks were Senegal’s best players in the first half but poor final decision-making in the final third rendered their attempts futile.

Just a moment before the half-time hiatus, Senegal coach Joseph Koto was sent off after appearing to be swearing at referee following a number of decisions that went against his charges.

The tempo of the game picked up in the second half. SA used the speed of Monnapule Seleng to penetrate the Senegalese defence. What let SA down was having fewer bodies in the box whenever Seleng delivered crosses.

Playing with five defenders in Ngcobo, De Reuck, Thabani Dube, Nyiko Mobbie and Sifiso Ngobeni meant Bafana had fewer numbers in advanced areas. Seeing that thing weren’t really happening, SA withdrew Letsoalo, Mkhulise and Yusuf Maart for Thabang Sibanyoni, Lebohang Maboe and Ethan Brooks.

The substitutes, especially Maboe, aided SA to have better ball retention. Maboe also won Bafana a number of free-kicks in dangerous areas but he couldn’t convert any of those set-plays. In extra-time both teams lost the momentum and looked content to go to penalties.

Meanwhile, Mothwa was named Goalkeeper of the Tournament after he helped SA to six clean sheets in the tournament, while Bloemfontein Celtic's Victor Letsoalo was top scorer with four goals. Siyethemba Sithebe, who's Mothwa's teammate at AmaZulu, was named Player of the Tournament.

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