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Bafana Bafana off to winning start in Cosafa Cup opener

Kagiso Malinga celebrates his goal with Sphelele Mkhulise

Bafana Bafana got their Cosafa Cup campaign off to a winning start after they secured a 1-0 victory over Botswana at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Tuesday evening.

New Orland Pirates signing Monnapule Saleng was handed a start alongside TS Galaxy midfielder Ethan Brooks and Siyethemba Sithebe in midfield, while SuperSport United's Thatayaone Ditlhokwe started for Botswana.

South Africa nearly grabbed an early lead after three minutes when Mashweu Mphahlele's quick throw put Thabang Sibanyoni was through on goal but saw his shot from a tight angle saved Zebras goalkeeper Ezekiel Morake.

Bafana had another chance to break the deadlock from a free-kick but Monnapule Saleng saw his curling effort sail just over the crossbar.

Bafana won a free-kick in a promising position on the right-hand side and Monnapule Saleng tried to curl it into the far-post corner with the left foot but it went sailing over the bar.

The Zebras had their first real chance of the game on the half-hour mark when Mothusi Johnson cut the ball back for Segolame Boy, who saw his effort saved by Bafana captain Veli Mothwa, who tipped the ball over his bar.

From the resulting corner, Mothwa was forced into making another great save but this time to deny Gape Mohusiwa's goal-bound strike as the game went into the halftime break locked a 0-0.

Botswana showed their intent early in the second half should've levelled matters when Elias Mbatshi tried to capitalise on Basil Mphhlele's failed header clearance but was his volley crash against the woodwork.

Bafana eventually managed to take the lead in the 67th minute when Kagiso Malinga fired his effort past the Zebras goalkeeper from an acute angle to make it 1-0.

The visitors continued to press forward in the closing stages of the game but were unable to penetrate the South African defence as the game ended 1-0 in favour of Bafana Bafana, who walked away with all three points to move up to second place in Group A.