After going on to win this year’s Cosafa Cup Plate final, Bafana Bafana coach Helman Mkhalele admitted that his side did not have a good start against Botswana and said it was all due to the major changes he made to the starting line-up.
But, the team went on to win 2-1, with goals from Antonio van Wyk, who was troublesome for the Zebras defenders with his pace, and substitute Selaelo Rasebotja.
Botswana, who looked threatening from the early moments of the tie, could only get into the scoresheet late in the game with a consolation goal from captain Thato Rebue with a well taken shot from just outside the box.
Mkhalele, however, was happy with how his team got their balance back, after making early substitutions by bringing on Rasebotja and Siyanda Msani just after half an hour.
“We didn’t start well, even though we won. I am happy that the players demonstrated a huge amount of character. We made eight changes, which was a high risk because in a short space of time playing the amount of games that we played and making eight changes, it backfired in the first half,” said Mkhalele.
“But towards the last 15 minutes, after we made some changes and we started to get into our rhythm. So, I will say congratulations to my boys and congratulations to Botswana because they made sure that we work really hard for our victory.”
The Plate final win was redemption for Bafana following the team’s elimination from the main tournament, where they lost 5-4 to Mozambique on penalties in the quarterfinals.
That loss took the South Africans down to the Plate competition, where they met with Madagascar in the semifinals. Bafana managed to edge the Malagasy 2-1, courtesy of goals from Keletso Sifama and Chumani Butsaka, before eventually going on to lift the Plate trophy.