AFRICA: COSAFA Cup
Time: 4:00 PM
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (Port Elizabeth)
Following the conclusion of the group stage on Wednesday, the COSAFA Cup semi-finals take place on Friday, with host nation South Africa squaring off against Mozambique in an intriguing tie.
South Africa advanced as the winners of Group A, seeing them drawn against Group B’s second-placed side, who collected a commendable tally of seven points of their own in the group stage.
South Africa came into the COSAFA Cup on home turf with high expectations, and they have more than risen to the occasion, qualifying for the semi-finals in first place in Group A.
Hugo Broos’s men started their campaign with a narrow 1-0 win over Botswana, as Kagiso Malinga netted the only goal of the game in the 67th minute.
They then won by the same scoreline in the following clash with Eswatini thanks to Thabang Sibanyoni’s goal on the hour mark after their opponents were reduced to 10 men on the stroke of half time, as Felix Badenhorst was shown a red card.
Bafana Bafana recorded their most convincing win of the group stage in their third game, as they thrashed Lesotho 4-0 thanks to a Sepana Letsoalo hat-trick and a Sphelele Mkhulise goal.
While top spot was already all but confirmed going into the final day, they successfully sealed the first-placed finish with a goalless draw against Zambia on Wednesday.
Having cruised through the group stage without shipping a goal, Brood’s men will head into the semi-finals with plenty of confidence as they go in search of their fifth COSAFA Cup title.
They take on a Mozambique side who defied the odds to reach this stage after a concerning start to the tournament.
Horacio Goncalves’s men kicked off their group campaign with a goalless draw against a Zimbabwe side who went on to finish at the bottom of the group without a victory.
They were then narrowly beaten 1-0 by Senegal, as Pape Massar Djitte hit the only goal of the game on the hour mark, seeing Mozambique’s semi-final hopes look bleak with just one point from two of their four games.
However, they would bounce back in impressive fashion, defeating Malawi 2-0 in the third game thanks to second-half goals from Vitinho and Bonera, meaning they went into the final clash against first-placed Namibia with a slim chance of reaching the semi-finals.
While there was a three-point gap between the two sides going into the game, the group leaders’ goal difference was only one better than their opponents, meaning a Mozambique win by any scoreline would see them leapfrog Namibia and break into the top two against the odds.
That encounter looked set to finish goalless, with very few chances at either end, but Melque Alexandre would find the net in the 81st minute to fire his side through to the knockout stage, with the host nation awaiting them in what will be a rematch of the COSAFA Cup final in 2008, when South Africa lifted the trophy after a 2-1 win.
- South Africa’s form in last 5 matches: DWWWW.
- Mozambique’s form in last 5 matches: WWLDL
PREDICTION: Home/Draw and Under 4.5