6 June 2018

Botswana: Zebras Gallop Into Plate Final

Molepolole — The Zebras have booked their place in the COSAFA Cup plate final after seeing off the Kingdom of eSwatini by 2-0 at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane on June 5, setting up what looks to be mouthwatering finale on prospect against old foes Bafana Bafana.

After crushing out of the main competition ,the Zebras had everything to play for against eSwatini in the bid to redeem their pride in the plate section final.

The local boys were only eight minutes into the game after an enterprising play by Kabelo Seakanyeng dazzling through eSwatini's backline to tee up a return pass to Onkabetse Makgantai who produced a sumptuous finish with his right foot taking his tally to five goals in five matches.

Two minutes after breaking the deadlock, Coach Major David Bright's men had another chance to double their lead when Thatayaone Kgamanyane played through goal only to shank his effort into the feet of the goalkeeper.

eSwatini struggled in the opening exchanges but started to settle after 20 minutes of play and started enjoying their fair share of possession on the ball but could not fashion any threat to the well-marshalled Zebras backline.

Botswana was dealt with a slight blow after the industrious left back Lesenya Ramoraka was stretched off with a knee injury forcing Bright to bring on Thatayaone Ditlhokwe on the left-hand side.

eSwatini's only threat at goal fell to Felix Badenhorst after latching on to a cross from a teammate with a header that sailed wide of Mwampule Masule's goal.

With only 10 minutes before the halftime break, Makgantai had a chance to double his tally and possibly equal Peter Ndlovu's COSAFA cup goals record but his shot at goal was matched by a brilliant save from the keeper.

Despite making few changes eSwatini still struggled to break the duck in the second half but continued to throw numbers forward in the closing stages in search of an equaliser.

The Zebras sealed the win in stoppage time when an un-marked second-half substitute Gape Mohutsiwa powered home from a corner kick to end the match at 2-0.

In the post-match conference, Bright could not hide his delight over the win as he commended his players for a job well done given the congested fixtures in few days.

"We are now left with one hurdle, bear in mind that we qualified from a tough group, played another competitive opponent in Zimbabwe now we will again face another tough opponent which is South Africa but our intention is to win the plate final," he said

The coach highlighted that the tournament had given him enough to ponder on introducing some of the youngsters to join the team for the upcoming Afcon qualifiers and even beyond.

The Zebras will face Bafana Bafana on Friday in the Plate Cup final following South Africa's 5-1 win over Namibia in the first semi-final.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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