NATIONAL soccer team, Taifa Stars has been presented with an opportunity to seek its first win against South Africa, Bafana Bafana. Taifa Stars will face Bafana Bafana tomorrow at Royal Bafokeng after topping Group A in the ongoing COSAFA Castle Cup to qualify into the quarter-finals of the tournament.
Stars cruised into the quarter despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Mauritius in their final Group A match at Moruleng Stadium on Thursday evening. They tied on five points with Angola but went through the stage on goal difference advantage.
Salum Mayanga’s squad squeaked through Group A after having previously beaten Malawi and drawn against Angola. Taifa Stars ended with a goal difference of plus two to plus one for three-time winners Angola, whose final game with Malawi ended goalless at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace.
The two matches were played simultaneously. In the match, Stars started with star striker Tomas Ulimwengu for the first time in the tournament. He is based in Sweden but has been struggling with an ankle injury.
He had three good chances in the first half but Mauritius held them goalless at half-time, even though Stars’ Shiza Kichuya struck the post. The islanders were the first to net through Kevin Perticots, who had come on after half-time.
A counter attack allowed a break away and he chipped the goalkeeper in the 67th minute for Mauritius’ first goal of the tournament. But the lead lasted less than 60 seconds as Saimon Msuva equalised to put Tanzania back in contention.
According to records, the two sides have met only twice and South Africa have won both. In the first match, which was a friendly tie played on May 28, 2011 Bafana Bafana won 1-0 at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam and the lone goal was scored by defender Siyabonga Sangweni.
The only other meeting between the two teams was in 2002 when they played to a 1-1 draw in the four-nation Castle Lager Cup. South Africa triumphed 4-3 on penalties. Stars will look for its first win and revenge of the 1-0 defeat at home as well as the 4-3 penalties defeat in the hands of Bafana Bafana in front of their supporters.
Meanwhile, South Africa coach Stuart Baxter is likely to give a raft of players their international debuts in the COSAFA Castle Cup quarterfinal against Tanzania tomorrow.
Bafana Bafana have a date with their East African guests as they begin the defence of the regional title they won last year in Namibia, seeking to become the first country to lift the trophy five times.
Baxter said the Cosafa Cup and the Chan tournaments should be used to the benefit of the national teams. Baxter has selected 20 players for the COSAFA Cup with an average age of 22, 6 – none of them regulars in the Senior Men’s National Team.
“The strategy this time around is to invest time and experience for the players that are going to go on and have international experience. Moving forward we should do things similar to the way the Germans are doing in the Fifa Confederations Cup where they have only about three or four senior players supporting a group of U21s,” said Baxter.
Only four of the players are above the age of 25 years: (Boalefa Pule, 27; Mario Booysen, 29; Aubrey Ngoma, 28, Mohau Mokase, 26). Two of the players in the squad played in the 2015 Fifa U17 World Cup in Chile, one in the 2009 Fifa U20 World Cup while six featured in the 2017 Fifa U20 World Cup.
“We have picked a team for the Cosafa Cup with an average age of 22,6 with some of the younger interesting players from the base of the U20 National Team that went to the World Cup in Korea.
That way, we will make sure that the young talent is nurtured from young age until they graduate into the senior national team. That is how we intend to reinforce the Vision 2022 blueprint.” Amajita captain and defender Tercious Malepe, as well as striker, Judas Moseamedi are the only two players that won the 2016 edition of the Cosafa Cup.