Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter is hoping his charges will perform a little bit better than they did in the second match of the 2018 COSAFA Cup when they defeated Namibia 4-1 to set up a date with Botswana in the Plate Final.
The clash will take place on Friday evening (8 June 2018) at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.
Kickoff is at 17h00.
In 13 meetings, there have been nine wins for South Africa and four draws. Botswana is yet to register victory over Bafana Bafana in regulation time, with one match going to the neighbours after a penalty shootout in the COSAFA Cup in 2006.
Botswana has played four games in the tournament, starting in the first round group stages – they have beaten Angola, Malawi and Mauritius, but went down to Zimbabwe on penalties in the quarterfinals.
South Africa joined the competition in the last eight where they lost in a penalty shootout to the Islanders, and went on to beat Namibia in the Plate semi-final.
Baxter is well aware of the danger that Botswana poses, but is hoping his side has found its footing.
“Botswana played well against Zimbabwe, they played very well to go through and have also battled because they have had plenty of games – but then again those lots of games help you gel a little bit, you find a rhythm, which hopefully we have found now,” said the Bafana Bafana mentor.
“You get the lads together and you play a game, you try to play a friendly game in between, it’s not the same, you go into your first game hoping they will find each other it’s a big ask. The second game was better, hopefully the third game will be a little bit better.”
Bafana Bafana will be without the suspended Fortune Makaringe – who received two cautions in the last two matches.
Makaringe made his debut against Madagascar and also walked away with the Man of the Match award in that clash.
“We will definitely make that change (Makaringe) and will later maybe give the younger ones a bit more of a run. Since it’s the end of the season, there may be fatigue but the inspiration and motivation of wanting to play will take over. I am happy there was a good mood in the dressing room, in fact more like satisfaction because they gave a better performance and the result was better,” added Baxter.
Also not in the squad is Gift Motupa who has been released from the tournament due to a family bereavement.
The last time the two nations met, was about a year ago in the CHAN tournament with South Africa winning the two-legged qualifer.
Ryan Moon and Motupa scored in the away leg, and the former’s solitary goal secured victory on home soil.
With Motupa out of the squad, Moon and Jamie Webber are the only surviving players from the last fixture (22 July 2017) between the two countries.
Lesotho will take on Madagascar in the 3rd/4thplace play off in a later kick-off (19h30) on Friday evening.
In a repeat of the 2017 final, Zimbabwe and Zambia will contest for the ultimate prize on Saturday, 9 June at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium.