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Favourites South Africa and Zimbabwe endured some anxiety Saturday before reaching the Cosafa Cup semi-finals.
'Bafana Bafana' (The Boys) overcame bogey team Namibia 2-1 in the second half of a last-eight double-header before a capacity Nkoloma Stadium crowd.
And title-holders Zimbabwe were taken to a penalty shootout by 10-man Malawi after a 1-1 draw before advancing in the southern Africa championship.
South Africa should have won more convincingly as they got on top after the break and Jabulani Shongwe and Hlompho Kekana scored.
Half-time substitute Shongwe had been on the field just three minutes when his fierce, long-range shot found the net off the hands of Virgil Vries.
Kekana punished a weak Namibian clearance on 63 minutes to rifle a low shot across the goalkeeper and into the far corner.
But the 'Brave Warriors' halved the deficit against the run of play 18 minutes from time when Willy Stephanus converted a penalty at the second attempt.
South Africa goalkeper and captain Wayne Sandilands moved forward off his line before parrying the first Stephanus kick to safety.
Namibia stunned South Africa twice in previous editions but there was to be no repeat as they could not penetrate a solid Bafana defence during a tense finish.
Devon Chafa, Eric Chipeta and Ocean Mushure converted penalties to give Zimbawe a 3-1 shootout victory as only Chiukepo Msowoya netted for Malawi.
Record four-time champions Zimbabwe dominated the opening half and nudged ahead after 14 minutes.
Malawi goalkeper Simplex Nthala parried a Tendai Ndoro header off a free kick to Masimba Mambare, who stabbed the ball into the net.
Crisp, short passing enabled the holders to control play and Malawi were reduced to 10 men just before half-time.
Veteran defender James Sangala was shown a second yellow card on 44 minutes followed by a red to leave his side with an uphill task.
But Malawi fared better a man short and after a few lucky escapes, snatched an equaliser three minutes from time.
Zimbabwe goalkeeper Maxwell Nyamupangedengu tried to tip over a long shot from Moses Chavula, but the ball slipped off his glove into the net.
There was no extra-time and Zimbabwe took control of the shootout once teenager Bongani Kaipa blazed the first Malawi kick over.
Angola play surprise qualifiers Lesotho and Mozambique meet title favourites Zambia Sunday in the other quarter-finals in mining city Kitwe.