A second half goal from Hlompho Kekana gave Bafana a 2-1 win over neighbours Lesotho and claimed third position of this year’s Cosafa Cup tournament
Bafana seemed a lot motivated than Lesotho and made two quick attacks in the opening five minutes of the game, going close on both occasions as their opponents looked a bit shaky at the back.
South Africa continued to attack their neighbours, but they often did not have enough players in dangerous areas.
Bafana came close in the 18th minute when Mzikayise Mashaba was denied by the Lesotho keeper Phasumane Kholuoe after an enterprising play between Lerato Chabangu and Mashaba.
Lesotho were then handed a penalty in the 20th minute when Thulani Hlatshwayo was adjudged to have pulled Thapela Tale down inside the penalty box, and Maile Tlali stepped up to send Wayne Sandilands the wrong way.
Gordon Igesund’s men tried to hit back immediately after conceding their second goal of the tournament, but Lebogang Manyama’s effort went wide.
Chabangu went close from a 35th minute free-kick outside the box, but his shot sailed over the bar.
Bafana continued to dominate possession, and they were nearly rewarded in the 40th minute when Chabangu rounded the Lesotho keeper to set Mandla Masango, but his poorly taken shot was cleared off the line.
However, Bafana equalized on the stroke of half time, and it was Mandla Masango who made amends with a well taken strike from inside the box after being played by Chabangu from the set-piece.
Lesotho kept Bafana under pressure in the opening few seconds of the second half and they won two successive corner kicks in the process, but failed to convert any of them.
Bafana should have been 2-1 up in the 47th minute when Chabangu received possession alone in the Lesotho box, but the Swallows midfielder failed to hit the target.
Nonetheless, Bafana were in front after 53 minutes after a clinical finish from Hlompho Kekana who outpaced the Lesotho defenders to get the ball past helpless Kholuoe.
Bafana continued to threaten the Lesotho goal, but they could not penetrate the Lesotho defence.
Lesotho nearly made South Africa pay in the 63rd minute when substitute Thapelo Ramabele raced on to a pass, but Sandilands was too quick to come off his line and stop the attack.
Lesotho again won a penalty in the second half after Buhle Mkhwanazi handled the ball inside the box, and Maile Tlali again took the spot-kick, only for Wayne Sandilands to make a fine save.
Bafana continued to knock the ball around nicely, but the game lost its tempo as we approached the final whistle.
Edward Manqele squandered a golden chance to seal the victory for Bafana in the last five minutes as Kholuoe made a good block to deny the Sundowns forward.
From then it was too little too late for Lesotho to get an equalizer as Bafana walked away with the Bronze medal of this year’s Cosafa Cup tournament.