South-Africa

Malagasy, Swazis to face off

2015-05-20 22:43
Goal (AFP)

Johannesburg - Madagascar and Swaziland sprang more Cosafa Cup surprises on Wednesday to set up a Group B showdown, with a match against four-time African champions Ghana at stake.

A couple of first-half goals in Rustenburg earned Madagascar a 2-0 victory over Tanzania, who are 43 places higher on the FIFA world rankings.

And Swaziland never looked a team 55 places below Lesotho as they struck in each half for a 2-0 southern Africa championship triumph at a chilly Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace.

Madagascar and Swaziland are level on six points each and plus-three goal differences with the Indian Ocean islanders topping the table because they have scored one goal more.

So a draw will suffice for the Malagasy Friday while the Swazis must win to go top and secure a quarter-finals date with the Black Stars.

After Tanzania and Lesotho suffered surprise losses to Swaziland and Madagascar respectively two days ago in the opening group games, they were expected to hit back hard.

But the anticipated recoveries never materialised with the Tanzanian Taifa Stars particularly disappointing under experienced Dutch coach Mart Nooij.

The livelier Malagasy attacked from the kick-off and went ahead on 14 minutes as Njiva Rakotoharimalala controlled a deep cross and gave goalkeeper Munish Deogratias no chance.

Madagascar struck again a minute before half-time when Rhino Randriamanjaka was given time and space inside the box to hammer the ball high into the net.

Swaziland forged ahead against Lesotho on 44 minutes when a swerving Zweli Nxumalo drive rattled the underside of the crossbar and Xolani Sibandze tapped in the rebound.

A counter-attack down the left wing set up the second goal midway through the second half and Mthunzi Mkhontfo finished off a pin-point cross by captain Tony Tsabedze.

Tsabedze was wrongly judged offside when he scored in the opening half -- the latest in a series of poor decisions by match officials at the two-week tournament.

Leaders Zimbabwe face second-place Namibia Thursday to decide who wins Group A and qualifies for a quarter-final clash with defending champions Zambia.

Read more on:    cosafa cup  |  rustenburg  |  soccer
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