Victor Letsoalo scored a hat-trick on his debut as Bafana Bafana hammered Lesotho to book their place in the Cosafa Cup semi-finals.
IF THIS is Bafana Bafana’s “rebuilding process”, then bring it on! A debut hat-trick from Victor Letsoalo and a solo goal from Sphelele Mkhulise ensured that Bafana trounced Lesotho 4-0 at a wet Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in the Cosafa Cup on Tuesday.
With this win, Bafana are guaranteed a top spot finish in Group A and qualification for the semi-finals. They’ll play their last group stage match against Zambia on Wednesday afternoon. In the semi-finals, they’ll meet the second-place finishers in Group B
This win ensured that Bafana put daylight between them and their first three opponents in Group A in the competition. However, in the bigger scheme of things this was their fourth straight win under “process rebuild”, which is led by Belgian coach Hugo Broos.
The latter, alongside his assistant Cedomir Janevski, is yet to sit in Bafana’s dugout due to Covid-19 related reasons. But they’ll be proud of the work done by the local coaches Morena Ramoreboli and Vela Khumalo in the Cosafa Cup on home soil.
The duo, who’ve had to join forces after another first team assistant – Helman Mkhalele – tested positive for Covid-19, are enjoying a purple patch in the competition after defeating Botswana, Eswatini and Lesotho, despite changing playing personnel due to Covid-19.
This might not be the best Bafana team, given that it’s only local-based players, but with every match-day that comes in the competition they seem to be gelling nicely as a team. It’s something that stand-in coaches Ramoreboli and Khumalo will be proud of.
Against Lesotho, the Bafana technical team made as many as four changes to the team that defeated Eswatini 1-0 in the previous match. Letsoalo, Njabulo Ngcobo, Yusuf Maart, and Sifiso Ngobeni all made their full debuts for the senior national team.
Bafana dominated the game from the outset in Gqeberha. As a result, their efforts paid dividends as they were already 1-0 up in the first five minutes of the game. Ngobeni sent in a great delivery which met with Letsoalo who headed past Jersey Matsie.
That appeared to be the wake-up call that Lesotho needed to get back into the game. But Bafana quickly nullified that threat as they made in-roads into the visitors’ final third. And it wasn’t long before they doubled their tally after great build-up play.
On the edge of the box, down the far right, Nyiko Mobbie unleashed a low and hard shot that Matsie parried back into play before Mkhulise hit the rebound on the underside of the crossbar and over the line, putting Bafana in a comfortable position.
With less than five minutes before the interval, Bafana nearly came close to finding the third. But Orlando Pirates’ new signee Monnapule Saleng unceremoniously saw his close-range set-piece, from the D-Line, saved by Matsie before hitting the crossbar.
Letsoalo, though, did get his brace on the stroke of half-time. The Bloemfontein Celtic striker capitalised on a mistake from Lisema Lebokollane at the back before chipping his effort over an onrushing Matsie who was exposed at the back.
But Letsoalo was not done as ensured that he had a dream debut, becoming a hattrick hero. Substitute Lebohang Maboe rattled a set-piece between Lesotho’s wall before Thabani Dube found the loose ball and set-up Letsoalo who tapped home.