Veli Mothwa won the battle of the goalkeepers and Bafana Bafana lifted a first Cosafa Cup title in five years on Sunday as they beat guest side Senegal 5-4 on penalties after a goalless draw at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
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Mothwa and Senegal ‘keeper Pape Ndiaye, captains of their countries too, both saved one penalty in the shoot out, but Mothwa also scored a penalty past Ndiaye, while the latter’s attempt, the 12th penalty of the night was ballooned over, allowing Bafana to celebrate.
A scrappy first half yielded few clearcut opportunities for either side. Senegal forced a series of early free kicks with their main goal threat coming from Mohammed Ba, who headed an effort just wide.
Yusuf Maart scored a brilliant goal for Bafana against Mozambique in the semifinal, and the midfielder stepped up to take a long-range free kick, but while his effort was on target, it was no real threat to Pape Ndiaye in the Lions of Teranga goal.
Bafana grew into the game and Maart hurled in a long-throw that Victor Letsoala, looking to add to his four goals already in the tournament, headed over the bar. Mamelodi Sundowns’ Sphelele Mkhulise then dinked a brilliant ball for Letsoala over the top of the Senegal defence, but with Ndiaye rushing off his line, the Bloemfontein Celtic marksman fired wide.
The closest either side came to scoring in the open ing half was when Ba headed a Dominique Mendy corner towards goal, but the effort didn’t have too much power and Nyiko Mobbie was able to head off the line.
There were several bookings as feisty tackles flew in and Senegal head coach Joseph Koto was sent off by Zambian referee Audrick Nkole. Koto appeared to be incensed by some of Nkole’s decisions and found himself ordered to leave the field towards the end of the first half, watching the rest of the game from the stands.
After the break, Siyethemba Sithebe saw a long-range effort fly over, and not long after, Bafana had a decent appeal for a penalty turned down by Nkole, after Sithebe’s flick had struck Woula Sane on the arm.
Mostly, however, Senegal were dealing fairly comfortably with the host nation’s attacks and at the other end, Veli Mothwa had to be alert to keep out Ba’s effort at his near post.
Bafana came close shortly after that, Sithebe’s free kick bouncing kindly for Njabulo Ngcobo, but he couldn’t get in a clean strike and Ndiaye gathered.
As the game moved to the end of normal time and into extra time, whether through tiredness or poor attacking or good defending or a bit of all three, not much happened and a penalty shoot out became inevitable.