South Africa took a giant step towards the semifinals of the 2016 COSAFA Under-20 Championships on Friday when they defeated Swaziland 1-0 in a crucial Group A encounter at the Moruleng Stadium.
Substitute Menzi Ndwandwe netted with two minutes to go to take the home side to six points from their two matches.
They will qualify for the semifinals if Botswana fail to beat Lesotho in their group A clash on Saturday. If the Young Zebras do triumph, then South Africa will need a draw in their final pool match against them to secure a Last 4 place.
Swaziland held their own with a fine performance, but South Africa had too much firepower in the end having earlier struck the crossbar through Kobamelo Kodisang.
Zimbabwe are on the brink of elimination after they were held to a 0-0 draw by Malawi in Group B.
They have now gathered just a single point from their first two games after an opening day 5-1 defeat at the hands of Zambia, and must now wait anxiously for the outcome of the match between the other two teams in the pool on Sunday.
It makes for some interesting mathematics going into that fixture, but the upshot is that as long as Malawi lose by three goals or less, or draw or win, they will keep Zimbabwe in third place in the pool and leave the Young Warriors eliminated from the competition ahead of the cross-over fixtures against Group D on Tuesday.
Comoros Islands scored in injury-time through skipper Habib Youssouf to grab a 2-2 draw with Mozambique.
The islanders went ahead early through Said Hicham, but Mozambique took charge as Nilton Ernesto and Bruno Langa netted. They also hit the crossbar an amazing three times.
But the Young Mambas were made to pay for not finishing Comoros off as they conceded in injury-time and had to settle for the draw.
There are another three games to be played on Saturday at the Mogwase Stadium, including the Group A encounter between Lesotho and Botswana (kick-off 17h30 local; 15h30 GMT).
It’s do-or-die for Botswana, but Lesotho will also want to put on a strong showing after they were thumped 8-0 by South Africa in their opener.
Angola can take charge of Group C if they can get a win against Seychelles (11h00 local; 09h00 GMT).
The Angolans were narrow 1-0 winners over Sudan in their opener and can count themselves a little fortunate to come away with all three points. Seychelles lost 2-0 to Mauritius.
It means that the pool could be thrown wide open come the end of Saturday with north African guest nation Sudan taking on the current top side Mauritius (14h30 local; 12h30 GMT).
Victories for Sudan and Seychelles would certainly make things interesting going into the final round of matches on Monday.
Only the winners of each pool advance to the semifinals. The final will be played on December 16 at the Moruleng Stadium.
South Africa 1 (Menzi Ndwandwe 88’) Swaziland 0
Malawi 0 Zimbabwe 0
Comoros 2 (Said Hicham 10’, Habib Youssouf 90’) Mozambique 2 (Nilton Ernesto 45’, Bruno Langa 75’)
11h00 (09h00 GMT): Angola vs Seychelles – Mogwase Stadium
14h30 (12h30 GMT): Sudan vs Mauritius – Mogwase Stadium
17h30 (15h30 GMT): Lesotho vs Botswana – Mogwase Stadium
Group A P W D L GF GA Pts
South Africa 2 2 0 0 9 0 6
Swaziland 2 1 0 1 2 1 3
Botswana 1 0 0 1 0 2 0
Lesotho 1 0 0 1 0 8 0
Group B P W D L GF GA Pts
Zambia 1 1 0 0 5 1 3
Malawi 1 0 1 0 0 0 1
Zimbabwe 2 0 1 1 1 5 1
Group C P W D L GF GA Pts
Mauritius 1 1 0 0 2 0 3
Angola 1 1 0 0 1 0 3
Sudan 1 0 0 1 0 1 0
Seychelles 1 0 0 1 0 2 0
Group D P W D L GF GA Pts
Mozambique 2 0 2 0 2 2 2
Comoros 1 0 1 0 2 2 1
DR Congo 1 0 1 0 0 0 1
Matches Played: 3
Goals scored: 25
Biggest victory: South Africa 8 Lesotho 0 (Group A, December 7)
Most goals in a game: 8 – South Africa 8 Lesotho 0 (Group A, December 7)
2 goals – Menzi Ndwandwe (South Africa)
1 – Achmat Ceres (South Africa), Edward Chilufya (Zambia), Patson Daka (Zambia), Marcus Dimanche (Mauritius), Nilton Ernesto (Mozambique), Alex Ferre (Mauritius), Said Hicham (Comoros Islands), Bruno Langa (Mozambique), Ali Matse (Swaziland), Sibongakonke Mbatha (South Africa), Wisemen Meyiwa (South Africa), Bhekani Mthembu (Swaziland), Nkosingiphile Ngcobo (South Africa), Moses Nyondo (Zambia), Fransisco Sacalumbo (Angola), Fashion Sakala (Zambia), Chrispen Sakulanda (Zambia), Itumeleng Shopane (South Africa), Bukhosi Sibanda (Zimbabwe), Sifundo Sibiya (South Africa), Luther Singh (South Africa), Habib Youssouf (Comoros Islands)