Home Sport Eswatini clash will decide Bafana’s semi-final chances

Eswatini clash will decide Bafana’s semi-final chances

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Bafana Bafana are up against Eswatini at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha. Mozambique take on Botswana in the other group game at the Wolfson Stadium in KwaZakhele, some 10km away.

Bafana Bafana caoch Helman Mkhalele. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane, Independent Newspapers

Bafana Bafana’s 2024 Cosafa Cup fortunes are poised on a knife edge as they try to avoid defeat in the final round of Group A games on Tuesday (kick-off 3pm).

After the opening two rounds, all four teams in the group have two points since all the matches ended in draws. As a result, the outcomes of Tuesday’s Group A games will decide who will advance to the semi-final round. The three group winners will qualify for the semis along with the best runner-up.

Bafana Bafana are up against Eswatini at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha. Mozambique take on Botswana in the other group game at the Wolfson Stadium in KwaZakhele, some 10km away.

Coach Helman Mkhalele has not been impressed with his charges, who have stuttered thus far, recording 1-1 and 0-0 draws against Mozambique and Botswana in the opening rounds. Mkhalele’s primary focus will be on sharpening the attack for the Eswatini showdown.

“We did control the possession against Botswana but … much of it was in our half. We were not a threat, especially with the combinations trying to enter the final third,” said Mkhalele.

“We didn’t go in there with aggression. We were sloppy because everything was slow. We were not making those runs to support (Thabang) Sibanyoni, who was doing well by winning the aerial balls. We were late in joining him or anticipating the second ball. Against Eswatini we have to make sure that we win to increase our chances of proceeding to the next round.

“What we lacked against Botswana were those passes and movements, those runs between and behind their defensive lines, especially the entries for the final third. If we can increase those entries, I still believe we have more qualities to score or take those opportunities.”

After two games, the Bafana coach said he had a better idea of his players’ abilities.

“The two games have given me a better picture of the type and quality of players we have. By giving them minutes on the pitch, we get to see where they are in terms of fitness, mental, emotional and technical level.

“I think we will have a very competitive team because we will field our strongest players for the final match.”

In head-to-head stats, South Africa and Eswatini have met in 10 matches, dating back as far as 2000. Bafana Bafana boast an unbeaten record, with eight wins and two draws.

The teams last met in an international friendly in Johannesburg in October last year, which ended in a goalless stalemate.

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