Stuart Baxter. Picture: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI
Stuart Baxter. Picture: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI

The depth of South African football got a positive airing yesterday as a ragtag Bafana side overcame Botswana 2-0 in the Cosafa Castle Cup at the Moruleng Stadium.

Coach Stuart Baxter made eight changes to the team dumped out in Sunday's quarterfinal match against Tanzania, for the main trophy and into the secondary plate competition.

They are now into the consolation final against either Namibia or Swaziland on Friday (kickoff 5pm), also at Moruleng Stadium.

Exciting young talent like Nduduzo Sibiya, Thabo Cele and man-of- the-match Lebohang Maboe showed potential as they outplayed a near full-strength Botswana side and extend to 12 matches South Africa's unbeaten record against the country.

South Africa play Botswana again twice more in the Chan-201 qualifiers on July 15 and 22. The Zebras were desperate to win and coach Oris Radipotsane blamed the officiating, perhaps missing his own side's inability to take chances, particularly at set-pieces with their superior strength and height.

Botswana had a real chance with their first attack as they caught the home defence and exposed debutant goalkeeper Bruce Bvuma, but the Kaizer Chiefs custodian came out to partially block the effort from Lempoye Tshireletso, although it needed Mario Booysen scrambling back to clear the ball off the line.

Four minutes later Tshireletso had another chance as Booysen stumbled and Bvuma found himself well out of goal but again managed to block the effort.

The extent of Botswana's desire to end their winless run of 11 past internationals against their southern neighbours was shown by the viciousness of some of their tackles, which saw them pick up two early cautions.

But after seeing off the initial storm, the young South Africa began to play, with Sibiya initiating chances from the midfield as he saw off his early nerves and began to dictate matters.

It was a superb set of passes between Sibiya, Cele and Mohau Mokate that set up Riyad Norodien for a cracking strike on goal that secured the lead after 33 minutes.

Cole Alexander came on and almost scored with his first touch as he forced Botswana into an error with a quick burst of pace in the first real chance of the second half.

Botswana's best effort followed soon from centreback Simsani Mathumo, whose driving effort thundered towards goal and looked like an equaliser until Bvuma came up with a splendid save.


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