Group C openers all square, South Africa chase first victory

Group C openers all square, South Africa chase first victory
Helman Mkhalele, coach of South Africa during the 2024 Hollywoodbets COSAFA Mens Championship South Africa Training Session at the The Westbourne Oval, Gqeberha on the 25 June 2024 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

by Staff Reporter

Saturday Jun 29, 2024. 11:00

Both Group C clashes in the 2024 Cosafa Cup ended all square on Friday, while Saturday sees the start of Matchday 2 – with hosts South Africa chasing a win over Botswana.

Lesotho, last year’s runners-up in the competition, opened their campaign with a 1-1 draw against Seychelles in the early game at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Jane Thabantso put Likuena ahead on 19 minutes, but the Pirates struck back midway through the second half via Lorenzo Hoareau to earn a share of the spoils.

And they were both joined on a point in the Group C standings by Angola and Namibia, who played out an entertaining goalless stalemate in the early-evening kick-off at the same venue.

Saturday sees the action move to Isaac Wolfson Stadium, with a midday kick-off pitting Mozambique against Eswatini, while the afternoon match sees hosts South Africa go toe-to-toe with Botswana.

Like Group C, Group A sees all four teams level on a point each after opening draws – 0-0 between Sihlangu Semnikati and the Zebras, and 1-1 between Bafana Bafana and the Mambas.

South Africa coach Helman Mkhalele says he has no plans to make wholesale changes for the match against Botswana as he looks to build momentum for the remainder of their campaign.

“The players are coming from off-season and they had three days to train,” he explained. “What I will work on in the next two games is more of our defensive organisation. I’m quite happy that the boys understand how I want them to play.

“Going into the next game, we need to stay compact and we must not allow the opponents to find spaces and we will try to make sure we improve in those aspects.

“Once we study the opponents, that will inform us what type of players we need to bring in. At the same time, we want to make sure that we keep the same momentum.

“I’m not saying we are going to change or not. As we go into the next game, we will try to first and foremost look at how we can sustain the momentum that we have.”

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