South Africa overcame stern resistance from a determined Botswana side to win the 2016 Cosafa Cup with a 3-2 victory at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Namibia on Saturday night.
In the end, Bafana Bafana, who used their under-23 side who are to do duty in the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, did just enough to overcome a brave Botswana side who were looking for a first-ever Cosafa title.
Shakes Mashaba’s (pictured) team did, however, have to rely on two regulation time penalties from Orlando Pirates midfielder Gift Motupa to claim their fourth Cosafa title.
On an evening peppered with some questionable match officiating, South Africa dominated the early proceedings and were unlucky not to go ahead in the third minute when Judas Moseamedi had a goal ruled out for an apparent earlier infringement.
But it was Botswana, who had barely entered the opposition half, who were to draw first blood, the goal a brilliant individual effort as Okgabetse Makgantai chipped the ball over Reyaad Pieterse from 35-yards out on the right flank.
Chances followed at both ends as Lebogang Ditsele’s first time shot was well saved by Pieterse before Motupa sprinted clear for South Africa, but was denied by Mwampole Masule, who moved swiftly off his line to make an excellent block.
The match was back on level terms in the 33rd minute when Motupa coolly wrong-footed Masule from the penalty spot after Zebras skipper Boitumelo Mafoko had fouled Moseamedi.
Moseamedi had the ball in the net on 40 minutes, but his effort was ruled off-sides, despite the Black Aces striker having picked up on a back-pass by a Zebra defender.
Botswana were very unlucky not to reclaim the lead seven minutes after the restart when Lesego Galenamothlale’s superb half-volley from 25-yards out smashed against the woodwork, while at the other end of the park Menzi Masuki should have scored for South Africa after some wonderful interplay in the box, but he slashed his shot well wide of goal.
Bafana were in front for the first time in the match in the 66th minute, Motupa being threaded through on goal before he side-footed the ball past Masule and into the path of Thabiso Kutumela for a simple finish into an empty net.
But the lead was only to last for three minutes, Kabelo Seakanyeng levelling the score at 2-2 when his innocuous free kick from out near the corner flag went through the hands of Pieterse and into goal.
Botswana had a few chances to win the game themselves, but instead suffered a killer blow three minutes before the end of regulation time when the ball struck Joel Mogorosi’s arm in the box.
Motupa showed great composure to net from the resultant penalty, as the South Africans earned a big boost to their confidence ahead of the Olympics in just over one month’s time.