Zambia edge South Africa to reach U20 Africa Cup final
The Zambia U20 national soccer team has qualified to the final of the 2017 Total U20 Africa Cup of Nations tournament after beating stubborn South Africa 1 – 0.
An Edward Chilufya extra time goal in the 108th minute propelled Zambia to the finals after the two teams had battled to a goalless draw after 90 minutes play.
Having beaten Amajita twice in the last few months, 2-1 in the regional COSAFA U-20 Cup and the same scoreline in a friendly, the Junior Chipolopolo were highly favoured to complete a treble over their neighbours.
But it did not come on a silver platter, against a South African side that were rarely intimidated by the huge turnout at the 60,000-capacity stadium, giving the host their stiffest test in the tournament thus far.
With a balanced defence, Amajita was the better of the two sides in the opening minutes, winning three corner kicks in succession by the quarter-hour mark.
After a first half with no clear cut chance at goal, both teams resumed strongly and with former Zambia coach Herve Renard in the stands, the Chipolopolo soon began to find their feet.
Enock Mwepu was unlucky to break the deadlock when a clearance by a South African defender bounced off his body only for the post to deny him. Just on the stroke of full time, Mpoto was to his side’s rescue with a superb save off a Patson Daka goal bound shot to force the game into extra time.
During extra time, Chilufya settled matter with a flicking header from Chilufya curling shot from a free-kick to send the crowd at the packed stadium onto the cloud nine.
Zambia will now play the winner of Thursday’s other semi-final between Senegal and Guinea in Ndola in Sunday’s final, whilst South Africa faces the loser in the battle for bronze.
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