South Africa secured a 2-1 victory over Madagascar in the Cosafa Cup plate semi-final match at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium on Friday afternoon.
Goals from Kaizer Chiefs striker Keletso Sifama and Cape Town Spurs attacker Chumani Butsaka propelled Bafana Bafana to a narrow win over Barea, who netted a consolation through Solomampionona Koloina Razafindranaivo.
Bafana's interim coach Helman Mkhalele made a few changes from the South Africa side which lost to Mozambique on penalties in the quarter-finals clash on Wednesday. Butsaka and Jayden Adams were given a run-out by the 52-year-old tactician.
Madagascar were also wounded as they had suffered a 2-0 loss to Namibia in their quarter-final match on Tuesday. Barea were hoping to make it two wins in a row against South Africa, having claimed a victory over the Southern African giants on penalties in the 2018 Cosafa Cup quarter-final clash.
South Africa started the match brightly with Rowan Human looking lively - combining well with his teammates in the opposition's half as he looked to create chances for his teammates. The Maritzburg United playmaker attempted two through passes for Butsaka, but the Barea defence managed to intercept them and clear the ball away on both occasions.
Mkhalele's youthful charges pushed for the opening goal and they got it midway through the first half. A cross was played from the right by Zuko Mdunyelawa and Sifama connected well with the ball - beating goalkeeper Fenohasina Razafimaro to make it 1-0 to South Africa in the 22nd minute.
Bafana continued to launch attacks after taking the lead with captain Keagan Johannes being denied by Razafimario after the SuperSport United defender had connected with Siyanda Msani's well-taken free-kick. Madagascar were then able to contain the tournament hosts until the match referee Jose Chitumba of Angolan blew the half-time whistle.
South Africa maintained their dominance after the restart, but they couldn't keep their attempts on target and Mkhalele decided to make changes. The retired winger introduced the Orlando Pirates duo of Azola Matrose and Boitumelo Radiopane, who are out on loan at Chippa United and Cape Town Spurs, respectively.
The seven-time Cosafa champions upped the tempo in the closing stages of the game and they managed to double their lead with Radiopane providing the assist. The 19-year-old striker set up Butsaka who made no mistake as he beat Razafimaro from close range to make it 2-0 to South Africa in the 85th minute.
However, Bafana went to sleep at the back and they were punished by Razafindranaivo who fired past keeper Lincoln Vyver to make it 2-1 with three minutes left. Nevertheless, the game ended in a 2-1 win in favour of South Africa who will now face either Botswana or Eswatini in the plate final on Sunday, while Madagascar will travel back home.