The group stage of the COSAFA Cup proved to be a mixed bag of results. Group A went exactly to form, with Namibia defeating both Mauritius and Seychelles to advance. The Brave Warriors had little trouble with Mauritius, handing Club M a comprehensive 2-1 defeat. The group was pretty much secured after that result. The match against Seychelles also ended with Namibia doubling up their opponent, this time to the tune of 4-2. Seychelles held a brief 2-1 lead in the first half. It was short lived, however. Within 2 minutes that lead was gone and within 8 minutes, Namibia had claimed the lead for good.
Namibia have spread the wealth quite well so far in this competition. Their 6 goals have come through 5 different players. This is a could be a great sign of things to come in their quarterfinal against South Africa as they do not appear too reliant on any one person for production.
Group B is a totally different story. Prior to the start of the tournament, we had predicted Kenya would breeze through the group. COSAFA had thrown Kenya a softball, we wrote. Kenya was going to win the group with ease and would provide Angola with the stiffest competition Group B could offer. Well apparently that write up both found its way into the Kenya, Lesotho and Botswana locker rooms! Kenya was caught reading the press clippings and Lesotho invoked the ever-dangerous ‘nobody believes in us’ attitude heading into their group B opener. Much to everyone’s surprise, Lesotho held a lead in the dying minutes of the match, only to concede a penalty in the 89th.
Lesotho would carry that chip on their shoulder into the next match against Botswana. Falling behind 2 goals to nil in the second half wasn’t enough to prevent Crocodiles from grabbing points. 3 goals in the final 30 minutes, including a heart-stopper in stoppage time saw them climb all the way back to draw 3-3 and keep the dream alive.
In the final round of fixtures, Lesotho would defeat Swaziland 2-0 to go top of the group. Having played Swaziland now 6 times over the past 2 years definitely worked to their advantage in this case. Kenya would go on to lose to Botswana 2-1 and finish an embarrassing 3rd place. Had Botswana not gotten off to such a slow start with a 0-0 draw to Swaziland or given up 92nd minute goal to Lesotho, they would be the ones advancing.
July 13, 2013
Zimbabwe v Malawi
These two nations finally get their COSAFA Cup underway, and for one of them it’s going to be very short lived. We currently have 8 ranking spots separating these two. Malawi’s form is marginally better than Zimbabwe’s at this point:
This should be a very close match, probably the closest out of the 4 quarterfinals. Based solely on higher ranking and better form, we’re going to give Malawi the slight edge. A result for Zimbabwe would be less than surprising however.
Prediction: Malawi by 1
South Africa v Namibia
It’s finally time for Bafana to play, regardless of who is wearing the kit. There was much backlash in South Africa over squad selection. Many players decided to remove themselves from consideration. Fans were outraged by coach Gordon Igesund’s decision to compete with a less than full squad. They clearly do not see the importance in giving some of the inexperienced players a chance to prove themselves. The current senior squad is only still eligible for Brazil 2014 because Ethiopia forfeited a match by using an ineligible player. Doesn’t seem like they’re getting too far with that bunch if you ask me!
Midfielder Mzikayise Mashaba was stopped at OR Tambo International and was not permitted to board the flight to Zambia with the rest of his teammates. Passport issues were eventually figured out and he was able to board a later flight.
After all that drama, Bafana are finally in Zambia where they can distance themselves from all the media distractions. Lucky for them, they are playing the second worst team in the quarterfinals and should be able advance.
Prediction: South Africa by 1
July 14, 2013
Angola v Lesotho
Angola will take on the tournament’s Cinderella story on Sunday in Kabwe. In most cases, upsets rarely carry-over into the later phases of championship tournaments. This quarterfinal is more mismatched than either of the previous 2, as there are 85 We Global ranking places between these two teams. It’s not often one would pick an antelope to beat a crocodile, but We Global tabs Angola as a two goal favorite here.
Prediction: Angola by 2
Zambia v Mozambique
The final match of the quarterfinals finally sees host Zambia take the pitch for the first time. Mozambique should prove little to prevent Chipolopolo from reaching their 10th consecutive COSAFA semi-finals. The last tournament Zambia failed to reach that stage was the 2000 edition in which they fell to Lesotho in penalties in the quarterfinals. Mozambique often reached the semis in prior editions, but they are a shell of their former selves. We Global ranks Zambia 99 places ahead of Mozambique. This game will pose 99 problems for the Mambas, despite sharing a nickname with Kobe Bryant.
Prediction: Zambia by 2
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