POLOKWANE: Botswana had started Friday’s final day of group matches with a one-point advantage over Angola and Mauritius with Malawi already eliminated.
Botswana ensured they finished top of the standings in Group B at the COSAFA Cup in Polokwane on Friday, 1 June at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium as they romped to a record 6-0 win over Mauritius and a total of seven out of possible nine point from their three matches.
At the New Peter Mokaba Stadium, Angola finished second on four points after a goalless draw with Malawi in the other group game played simultaneously.
Botswana had started Friday’s final day of group matches with a one-point advantage over Angola and Mauritius with Malawi already eliminated.
It meant Botswana had their fate in their own hands and they made sure they there would not let the opportunity slip as they established a new record winning margin in an international.
They scored four goals inside the opening 26 minutes against a limp Mauritian side. A tired-looking Mauritius could not handle the pace of the Zebras players, but also lacked organisation at the back as Botswana had the freedom of their penalty box.
Onkabetse Makgantai netted the opener within three minutes, before Karabo Phiri added the second. Thatayaone Kgamanyane was gifted a third when a Mauritian defender cleared the ball into his path, and he showed great composure to side-foot past the goalkeeper.
The fourth goal was scored by Kabelo Seakanyeng, who moved joint top of the scorers charts in the 2018 COSAFA Cup with a third of the tournament to draw him level with Mozambique’s Luis Miquissone.
Mauritius started the second half with a bit more energy in their play but fell further behind when substitute goalkeeper James Caserne completely missed his punch from a corner and Botswana fullback Tshepo Maikano turned the ball home.
It was 6-0 on 70 minutes when Makgantai got his second, profiting as Caserne dropped a routine catch and the Botswana forward scored into an empty net. He also joins Miquissone at the top of the scorers charts.
Malawi were again attacking for their all their worth but failing to find the net as Angolan goalkeeper Gerson Barros made a point-blank stop to deny Robin Ngalande on 15 minutes and a sliding Gaston Simkonda was just inches away from scoring seven minutes later, missing a square ball from Richard Mbulu at the far post.
Angola seemed to only wake up after half-time at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium but their best effort from Wilson in the 72nd minute was blasted straight at the referee Hamada Nampiandraza of Madagascar, who barely flinched despite being stung at close range as he got in the way of the shot.
Saturday, 2 June marks the start of the quarter-finals when the top six seeds enter the competition.
The knockout stages begin with last year’s runners-up Zambia meeting Namibia at 15h00 at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium followed by Lesotho against Swaziland at 17h30.
Namibia are also past winners and have high hopes of repeating their 2015 achievement while the Basotho and Swazis are much improved in recent years and have had a staunch rivalry down the years.