The Diamond Zebras have continued with a good run at the Under-17 COSAFA championships that are underway in Mauritius. The team recorded their second win of the tournament with a 2-1 win over Seychelles on Saturday afternoon at the St. Francis Xavier Stadium.
The Zebras kicked off their campaign on a high note as they beat the host, Mauritius 1-0 in a hard fought win, courtesy of a late penalty that was converted by Oageng Maphorisa while Seychelles came from a heavy 8-3 defeat at the hands of Namibia.
Coming into the Saturday game, coach Itumeleng ‘Tumie’ Duiker made a couple of changes in the team who played Mauritius. Attacking midfielder, Thabo Mangole started in place of Thabang Shendu while Arnold Obuseng replaced left full back, Gabriel Vanneel in the
starting line-up. The local boys started the game on a high as they pressed the Islanders from the first minute. Their efforts were rewarded just after 12 minutes, as the referee awarded a penalty after
Kaone Kolagano was brought down inside the box. Maphorisa stepped up and sent the keeper, giving the Zebras the lead with his second of the
The goal instilled confidence in
the Zebras, as they controlled the game for the majority of the half with Maphorisa and Kolagano leading the attack, making the Islanders’ defence work overtime while skipper, Larona Modisaemang and
Theo Shadikong marshalled the midfield well as they protect the back four.
However, the local side could not convert the chances they
created with Kealeboga Bonang being
kick from close range as the team took a 2-0 lead into the break.After recess, Seychelles put up an improved performance as they
sought to pull one back, but could not break the resilient Zebras defence. The Islanders pulled one back in the 63rd- minute as Rino
Pauline netted for Seychelles to set up a nervy finish.
The local boys were able to hang on to their slim lead into the final minute, as they remained unbeaten in the competition.
The win takes the Zebras to the top of Group A with six points;
three ahead of second-placed Namibia, who lost 1-0 to the host, Mauritius. The local boys will play Namibia in the final group match tomorrow, as they seek a semi-final spot. Still, a draw would be sufficient for Duiker’s boys to reach the semi-final.
Only the top team in each group advances to the semi-finals along with the best runners-up as the 12 competing sides seek to be crowned champions and also securing a berth in next year’s African Under-17
Championships that will be held in Tanzania.
*Additional reporting by www.cosafa.com.