After struggling to make it through the group stages of the Cosafa Cup, Bafana Bafana will need to push past their odds and strive for the best equipment on a mission to overcome tough Zambia in tonight’s semi-finals (King Zwelithin Stadium, 6pm CET).
In the first semi-final, Malawi will play Lesotho at 3pm at the same venue.
Made up of important players and stars at a crossroads in their careers, the Bafana team aim to win the Cosafa Cup to prove they still have it and maybe even make a career elsewhere.
But standing between them and the goal is the defending champions, Zambia, who put in an impressive display to reach the knockout stage.
Zambia opened their campaign this year with a loss to impressive Malawi and had to fight hard against improved Comoros and Seychelles to advance to the knockout stages as one of the best runners-up from the three groups.
Zambia will be boosted by the presence of their national team coach, Avram Grant, who arrived in Durban on Wednesday. Grant’s assistant coach, Moses Ciccioni, is in charge of Kozafa’s side while the former Chelsea and West Ham United boss oversees from a distance.
Bafana may have finished top of Group A, but they weren’t really stellar in matches against Namibia (1-1), Botswana (2-1) and Eswatini (2-1).
It took blood and sweat for the team coached by Morena Ramoripoli to achieve those results as they had to fight from goal down in each of them.
While SA captain Lyle Lakai admitted this was a concern, the 2021/2022 Premier League Soccer (PSL) defender for this season indicated that the team had not spent enough time leading up to the tournament.
“Everyone knows it’s the first time the players have played together and usually with the first game you can see that, but I think after we had the first game under the belt I think you both kind of got to know each other, even though some of us came from the same clubs and played.” together before,” said Lakai.
“Honestly, we’re making the job harder for ourselves,” he admitted.
“I was joking with the guys that maybe we need to start the game 1-0 down because in all three games after we lost 1-0 there was a reaction.
“I’ve seen the fighting and the hunger and if only we could start games the same way, up front from the whistle instead of waiting for teams to score and react.
“But having said that, there are also positives that we can take such as fighting spirit. I think with the three matches, I think we showed it more against Eswatini,” Lakai said.