South Africa crushed Swaziland 5-1 at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek on Wednesday evening to secure a place in the final of the 2016 Cosafa Castle Cup.
Sihlangu looked on course to record their first victory over Bafana Bafana after enjoying a 1-0 lead at the interval, but a second half collapse – set off by the dismissal of defender Siyabonga Mdluli – allowed Shakes Mashaba’s side to recover in style and claim a resounding win.
South Africa started the stronger of the two teams and enjoyed a handful of early attempts, the best of which saw Aubrey Madiba denied by a sharp save from Swazi goalkeeper Sandile Ginindiza in the ninth minute.
Yet as the first half wore on, it was Sihlangu who began to claim the ascendancy. On 20 minutes South Africa were lucky not to be punished when Wonder Nhleko was unable to pick out a shot or cross to an unguarded goal after beating ‘keeper Reyaad Pieterse to a 50-50 ball outside of the penalty area.
Swaziland claimed a deserved lead in the 38th minute, with the tournament’s leading goal scorer, Felix Badenhorst, turning provider as he played a lovely reverse pass to put Tony Tsabedze in on goal – the attacker coolly placed a shot between the legs of Pieterse to open the scoring.
Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba made two changes at the start of the second half – sending on Menzi Masuku to spark the midfield and replacing Pieterse with Jody February – but the true turning point was the dismissal of Swazi defender Siyabonga Mdluli for picking up two quick cautions.
The second saw him concede a free kick on the edge of Swaziland’s box and South Africa equalised from the set piece, with striker Thabiso Kutumela scoring with a low shot past the side of the defensive wall to make it 1-1 in the 52nd minute.
The 10-man Swaziland team then conceded a further two goals in the next eight minutes. First Lebogang Phiri put Bafana ahead with a deflected volley, before Masuku took advantage of Ginindiza pushing a cross straight to his feet by shooting home to make it 3-1 on the hour mark.
Bafana Bafana had to wait another 15 minutes before their fourth goal arrived: Black Aces striker Judas Moseamedi scored a lovely solo effort which saw him turn a Swazi defender inside out before firing a low shot into the bottom corner.
Maskuku netted his second goal of the game in the 83rd minute to make it 5-1, tapping home from close range after a selfless set-up from Kutumela. South Africa will face either Botswana or DR Congo in the final on Saturday.
South Africa (0) 5 (Kutumela 52’, Phiri 57’, Masuku 60’ 83’, Moseamedi 75’)
Swaziland (1) 1 (Tsabedze 38’)
SA: Pieterse (February 46’), Moerane, Sikhakhane (Masuku 46’), Coetzee, Malepe, Mobara, Phiri, D. Mekoa, Modiba, Kutumela, Moseamedi (Lorch 81’)
Swaziland: Ginindiza, Mabila, Mdluli, Gamendze (Mkhweli 63’), Ndzinisa, Lukhele (Nxumalo 77’), M. Dlamini, Ndlovu, Tsabedze, Badenhorst, Nhleko (P. Dlamini 55’)