CAPE TOWN – South Africa kicked off the defence of their Cosafa Cup crown when they welcomed Tanzania in the quarterfinals at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Sunday.
Coach Stuart Baxter faced a tough ask in ensuring the side defend their crown and in so doing clinch a record-breaking fifth title.
Dubbed Baxter’s babes, the youthful Bafana was marred with injury and late withdrawals, as they handed out eight new caps.
Baolefa Pule, Riyaad Norodien, Innocent Maela along with captain Lehlohonolo Masalesa were some of the players given their national team debuts in front of an empty stadium.
The hosts exerted their early dominance as they were presented with the game’s first opportunity on goal through Liam Jordan after 10 minutes, but he failed to make it count.
Tanzania were not overwhelmed by the occasion. They created a few exciting moments and looked extremely threatening every time they were on the ball and broke on the counter-attack.
Bafana were denied the opener after TV replay showed that Judas Moseamedi was well onside before slotting the ball into an empty net in the 16 th minute.
That pushed the Taifa Stars on to grab the opener which they did through Elias Maguri two minutes later after he caught the South African defence napping before beating Pule at his near post.
The goal rattled Bafana and they began to earnestly press forward for the leveler by throwing numbers in attack.
Though it did little to bring any winds of change as they headed into the break trailing their East African counterparts.
They struggled to continue from where they left off in the first stanza as the Taifa Stars attacked them in numbers.
They struggled to get the final ball through, as the man tasked to execute it in Masalesa and Jamie Webber didn’t live up to the billing.
With time running out and still trailing, Baxter saw the need to bring in more firepower with the introduction of striker Mohau Mokate for Jordan.
They however continued to struggle as they failed to put away half chances by Lorenzo Gordinho and Cole Alexander towards the end of the game.
Gordinho missed yet another sitter from close range as he fired way over the bar in the dying minutes.
At the end, Taifa Stars held on for a famous win and their first-ever win over the much fancied Bafana.