Honours even on Day One of Cosafa Cup 

Devin Titus of South Africa challenged by Jose Pedro Valipavai of Mozambique during their 2024 Hollywoodbets Cosafa Men’s Championship match at the Nelson Mandela Stadium, Gqeberha on the 26 June 2024. BackpagePix

It was honours even after the first day of the Hollywoodbets Cosafa Cup 2024 as Eswatini drew 0-0 with Botswana, and hosts South Africa played to a 1-1 draw with Mozambique at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha.

There was plenty of thrilling action, but no winners on what a fine start to the annual showpiece competition was.

South Africa led six minutes before halftime when captain Rushwin Dortley struck the ball home from Ethan Brooks’ excellent assist, adding to the list of Bafana Bafana players who have netted on debut.

But Mozambique were level midway through the second half when Chamito Alfandega netted to make the score 1-1. Both sides pushed for a winner after that, but the goal would not come, and they had to settle for a share of the spoils.

Eswatini and Botswana played to an exciting goalless draw in the tournament opener, where both goalkeepers made outstanding saves.

Eswatini had the better of the play with 11 goal attempts, six of them on target, while Botswana were restricted to four shots at goal.

It is a solid start to the campaign for both teams in what is likely to be a hotly contested pool.

The action continues on Thursday when the opening games in Group B are played, including a return to the competition for the first time since 2021 for six-time winners Zimbabwe.

They will take on Comoros at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (kick-off 15h00 CAT) having only met once before in the regional showpiece event. That was a 2-0 win for  the Warriors in the quarterfinals in 2019, when Evans Rusike and Khama Billiat were among the goals.

The second game on Thursday sees defending champions Zambia, who are aiming for an unprecedented third Cosafa Cup win in a row, take on east African guest nation Kenya (18h00 CAT).

Kenya have appeared once before in the Cosafa Cup, ironically when it was played in Zambia in 2013. They bowed out in the pool stages on that occasion.

Only the top team in each of the three pools and the best placed runner-up advance to the semifinals this year, meaning it is all to play for and any slip-ups put teams on the back foot.

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