JOHANNESBURG – South Africa hammered Swaziland 5-1 and Botswana edged the Democratic Republic of Congo 5-4 on penalties after a 0-0 draw Wednesday to reach the Cosafa Cup final in Namibia.
Bafana Bafana have won the annual regional championship three times while the Botswanans will be appearing in their first decider after two third-place finishes.
Swaziland led 1-0 at half-time in the first semi-final through a Tony Tsabedze goal only to fall apart during the second half in Windhoek when Siyabonga Mdluli was red-carded after two cautions within four minutes.
Thabiso Kutumela levelled on 52 minutes to trigger a goal rush with Lebogang Phiri and Menzi Masuku scoring by the hour mark for a 3-1 lead.
A man short and playing a fifth game in 12 days, the Swazis offered little resistance in the closing stages as goals from Judas Moseamedi and Masuku completed the rout.
“I am happy with the result but there are areas of concern,” said South Africa coach Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba.
“When we lose possession we must close down our opponents much quicker or stronger sides will punish us.”
Swaziland coach Harries Bulunga said: “I am devastated by this result. The red card cost us dearly and my boys were exhausted in the final quarter.”
“Heads dropped after we fell behind and some of the team gave up long before the final whistle. We have to recover quickly mentally with a third-place play-off on Saturday.”
Botswana dominated the draw against DR Congo before converting all five penalties with experienced Joel Mogorosi calmly stroking the decisive spot-kick into the corner of the net.
The Congolese Leopards disappointed and it would have been an injustice had they won the shootout in a cold Sam Nujoma Stadium.
“We should have finished the Congolese off in regular time,” said England-born Botswana coach Peter Butler. “Some great chances were not converted.”
“I am so proud of my predominantly young team, who never cease to amaze me.”
“We have been concentrating on building mental toughness and it was evident tonight.”
Namibia, who won the Cosafa Cup for the first time last year, meet Zambia Friday in the plate final and the third place play-off and final are scheduled for Saturday.