SOUTH Africa might have lost to Zambia just nine months ago, but Bafana Bafana are among just a handful of countries who have managed to beat the Zambians on home soil in a competitive international.
South Africa take on Zambia tomorrow in a Cosafa Cup semifinal in Ndola at the brand-new Levy Mwanawasa Stadium hoping to do at the new home of Zambian football what they did at the old Independence Stadium in Lusaka seven years ago.
In October 2006, South Africa were added to a rare list of countries who have beaten Zambia in Lusaka when Aaron Mokoena scored the only goal in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
It was one of Bafana’s best performances and left the expectant Zambia crowd shocked into silence.
Zambia have long prided themselves on their record at home.
They went almost two decades without defeat on home soil in all internationals in the 1980s and 1990s and over the past five decades of competition have seldom lost in front of their home fans.
Over the past 10 years they have only lost four competitive games at home – to Senegal in 2005, Bafana in 2006 and both Algeria and Egypt in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers.
Tomorrow’s match-up (8pm kickoff) is the 16th time that South Africa take on Zambia in an international, making them far and away Bafana Bafana’s most frequent opponents.
Zambia lead the head-to-head record with five wins to four for South Africa. There have been six draws. Goals are 16-14 in favour of Zambia.
The last meeting between the two countries was November’s Nelson Mandela Challenge at Soccer City, where Bafana lost to a 65th- minute goal from Collins Mbesuma. Tomorrow’s game is the third between the two in the Cosafa Cup, with both previous encounters going to penalties.
In 2005, when Stuart Baxter was coach, Zambia won 9-8 on penalties after a 2-2 draw in the semifinal in Mmabatho where Lungisani Ndlela and Abram Raselemane scored for the home team. But in 2007 Bafana won the title by edging the Zambians 4-3 on penalties after a goalless draw in the final in Bloemfontein.
Bevan Fransman, who joined the squad yesterday, competed in that final.
Penalties will again be employed if this year’s semifinal ends in a stalemate after 90 minutes. No extra time will be played.