Holders Zambia and hosts South Africa suffered shock Cosafa Cup quarter-finals losses Sunday after penalty shootouts in South Africa’s north-western village of Moruleng.
Zambia were held 0-0 by Namibia after having a slight edge over 90 minutes and then lost 5-4 on penalties in the first match of a southern Africa championship double-header. A similar fate befell South Africa as they went out 7-6 on penalties after dominating 90 goalless minutes against neighbours Botswana.
Guests Ghana play Madagascar and Malawi meet Mozambique Monday in the other quarter-finals.
Goals have been scarce in the Cosafa Cup this year despite Namibia slamming four past Zimbabwe three days ago in a group decider.The 12 mini-league games produced only 22 goals at an average of 1.83, and that dipped to just 1.57 after the two barren quarter-finals.
Zambia and South Africa fielded experimental teams lacking foreign-based stars but the depth of talent in both countries should have ensured progress against opponents with far smaller player pools.Namibia coach and former national team midfielder Ricardo Mannetti was ecstatic after his ‘Brave Warriors’ followed up winning Group A by eliminating Zambia.
“Our time is finally coming after many years of suffering on the football fields of Africa,” he said. “This team is not the finished article, but we are getting there.
“Thank you to every Namibian who has supported me and the players for the past two years.”
Like the other 13 national coaches at the Cosafa Cup, Manetti has one eye on winning the competition and the other on the mid-June kick-off of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. Under-pressure Zambia coach Honour Janza appeared stunned by an exit that follows mediocre results at the 2015 Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea.
“Namibia put up a gallant fight and we could not break them down,” said a coach who was expected to be replaced by a foreigner several months ago.
Botswana coach and former West Ham United midfielder Peter Butler displayed little emotion after a rare success for the ‘Zebras’ over Bafana Bafana (The Boys).
“We did well given that it is always difficult playing in front of a partisan home crowd,” he said.
“South Africa battled to break through and a change of tactics gave us more possession after half-time.”
Butler justifiably complained that his side should have had a late regular-time penalty as a Botswanan was deliberately pushed inside the box. But that injustice was forgotten when South Africa defender Kwanda Mngonyama watched horrified as his kick rebounded off the base of the post with goalkeeper Kabelo Dambe beaten.
Winger Deon Hotto, among the most exciting attackers in this Cosafa Cup, scored the winning spot-kick for Namibia.
Source : Confederation of African Football