The Clever Boys were made to come from a goal down to draw level in the second half before being forced all the way to penalties, which they lost 5-4.
Despite missing the sudden death penalty that saw his side crash out of the competition, Hlanti surprsingly picked up the man of the match award ahead of Ezenkosi's impressive individual performers on the night.
The left-back admitted to SuperSport TV after the match that Wits had expected a walk-over but were instead met with a rude awakening as they struggled to break through a resolute Cosmos defence.
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy playing against an NFD team. We came here and showed good character from the beginning, although we didn't make it at the end of the day," he said. "It was a bit tough for us but it's gone now.
"These kind of games are do-or-die, if you lose you're out of the competition, and we thought it would be easy only to find that it ended up being difficult for us."