South Africa made a winning start to the 2021 COSAFA Cup tournament thanks to a second-half goal by Kagiso Malinga as Eswatini’s Felix Badenhorst broke a Peter Ndlovu record in style.
With Comoros dropping out late and Madagascar pulling out even later, it is a testament to the hard workers at COSAFA that the tournament kicked off without a glitch at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha. The tournament format was changed twice in the last 72 hours, amid the ever-present Covid-19 fears.
Bafana Bafana had to exercise patience as they took on a Botswana side that was happy to just sit back and absorb pressure while looking for that one opening to spoil the hosts’ day. Mbatshi Elias created that opening but saw his shot come off the crossbar. The football gods would frown on that missed chance minutes later as Kagiso Malinga squeezed his shot under Ezekiel Morake for the winner.
Lanky Felix Badenhorst slotted in his 9th COSAFA Cup goal via a superbly taken free-kick to push the legendary Peter Ndlovu off the pedestal and stand alone as the tournament’s all-time leading goal-scorer. The Eswatini midfielder’s record-breaking feat was cancelled out by an equally superb free-kick by Lesotho’s Tumelo Khutlang just before the break. Lesotho having being reduced to ten men after Jane Thaba-Ntso’s reckless lunging tackle saw him walk back down after just six minutes of play, it was left to Eswatini to ensure victory with further goals from Khetokhule Mkhontfo and Fanelo Mamba.
Tomorrow will see action from Group B as six-time winners Zimbabwe take on Mozambique at 12 noon while guests Senegal pit their might against the Brave Warriors of Namibia at 3 pm.