MORULENG: The Zebras held their nerve in a penalty shootout against South Africa to proceed to the semi finals of the COSAFA Senior Challenge at the Moruleng Stadium last night. Peter Butler’s charges defied odds to silence a 11,500 strong crowd and beat their opponents in many years.
Both teams started cautiously, but there was not much for the buzzing crowd to crow about although Omaatla Kebatho could have given his side the lead in the 28th minute when he drove his effort wide with Bafana goalkeeper, Jackson Mabokgwane sprawled on the turf.
With three minutes left before the break, the hosts missed a glorious opportunity to put their noses in front as the ball dangerously rolled across Dambe’s goal with Carl Lark making a desperate last ditch effort to apply the vital touch.
The Zebras produced the last kick before half time, but it proved ineffective as Segolame Boy failed to find the accuracy required to finish a Lemponye Tshireletso through ball. Mpho Kgaswane’s grass cutter was pushed out by Mabokgwane to draw the first half action to a close.
The second half saw Bafana continuing to press and the Zebras preferring to sit back as Mabokgwane was a virtual passenger. In a bid to seize control, Butler sent in Joel Mogorosi and Hendrick Moyo for unanimous Tshireletso and an out of sorts Boy.
Instead, it was the home side that continued to ask the attacking questions.
Kgaswane could have won it for the Zebras at the death, but failed to connect with a tantalising cross after a trademark Mogorosi run.
The Zebras would feel they should have been awarded a penalty after Moyo collapsed under a challenge in the box but the Zambian referee, Wisdom Chewe decided to look the other way.
With the tie deadlocked at full-time, matters had to be concluded through penalties and the Zebras prevailed 7-6.
Their chances of landing the first ever COSAFA Cup title brightened as traditional regional giants, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe are all out of the competition.
Zebras: Kabelo Dambe, Tapiwa Gadibolae, Mosha Gaolaolwe, Ofentse Nato, Richard Legwaila, Omaatla Kebatho, Mpho Kgaswane , Segolame Boy (Moyo), Oscar Ncenga, Katlego Koobake, Lemponye Tshireletso (Mogorosi)
South Africa: Jackson Mabokgwane, Siyabonga Nhlapho, Marc Van Heerden, Phumelele Bhengu (Mduduzi Nyanda), Gift Moputa, Kwandakwezinsizwa Mngonyama, Carl Lark, Thapelo Morena, Clayton Daniels, Thamsanqa Sangweni (Modjeka Madisha), Tlou Segolela
Caution: Mosha Gaolaolwe
South Africa 0