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Bafana Start Cosafa Cup With Win

Bafana Bafana got off to a winning start on the opening day of the Cosafa Cup in Gqeberha, as Kagiso Malinga came off the bench to score a debut goal in a 1-0 win over Botswana.

It was a narrow victory for the rookie Bafana team, who were without head coach Helman Mkhalele, who was in isolation, and Morena Ramorebeli was in charge on the day.

Bafana had a good chance in the 10th minute, but new Orlando Pirates signing Monnapule Saleng chose to cross rather than shoot. Sphelele Mkhulise tried a long range effort in the 18th minute, but it was off target, as was Saleng’s attempt from a free kick three minutes later.

Veli Mothwa was called into action on the half hour mark, as he made a one handed save to deny . From the resulting corner Masilake Phohlongo had to be alert to clear off the line. Bafana went close again in the 42nd minute, but this time it was Ezekiel Morake was able to clear the ball ahead of Thabang Sibanyoni. At half-time it remained goalless.

Segolame Boy had a chance for Botswana in the 50th minute but his free kick went wide. Phohlongo broke into the box in the 53rd minute but his attempt at a cross was blocked.

Mothwa got down well to deny Boy in the 60th minute, while a minute later Siyethemba Sithebe shot just over at the other end.

It should have been Botswana in the lead in the 65th minute, as Elias Mbatshi pounced on an errant header from Basil Mphahlele but his volley hit the crossbar. A minute later Kagiso Malinga, who had come on off the bench, saw his shot go narrowly over the bar.

But he was on target a minute later, as Malinga raced onto a long pass, and did well to score from a very acute angle to give Bafana the lead. 1-0 in the 67th minute.

Botswana pushed to get back in the game and Mbatshi had a chance in the 80th minute,but his shot went high and wide.

A narrow win, and Mothwa, the captain for this tournament, will be happy with a clean sheet in his first game.

Meanwhile in the earlier game, eSwatini beat ten man Lesotho 3-1. Felix Badenhorst,Khethokuhle Mkhontfo and Fanelo Mbamba scored for eSwatini, while Nkau Lerotholi scored for Lesotho.

Bafana XI: Mothwa, Mobbie, De Reuck, Dube, Mphahlele, Sithebe, Brooks, Mkhulise, Phohlongo (70′ Maart), Saleng, Sibanyoni (56′ Malinga)

Botswana XI: Morake, Johnson, Ditlhokwe, Gaololwe,Leinanyane, Mohutsiwa, Mpolokang, Boy (79′ Kgomo), Setsile, Elias, Kgamanyane