Botswana and Mauritius picked up vital wins on the third day of the 2018 COSAFA Under-17 Championships to leave Group A on a knife-edge going into the final round of fixtures next week.
Botswana defeated Seychelles 2-1, an improved showing from the islanders after their opening day 8-3 loss to Namibia, but still not enough to keep them in the tournament as their semifinal hopes were dashed.
Oageng Maphorisa, with his second goal of the competition, and Tebogo Kopelang had Botswana 2-0 up, before Rino Pauline netted for the Seychelles to set up a nervy finish.
Botswana were able to hang on for the win though as they moved to six points from two matches and the top of the pool.
Mauritius, finalists in 2017, desperately needed victory over Namibia after their opening loss to Botswana and they were able to claim a 1-0 success thanks to a lone strike from Jeremy Kawoa, who had been set up with a fine through-ball by Jean Aristide.
Kawoa had a chance to double his tally close to the end as Namibia pushed forward in search of an equaliser, but he missed a simple chance.
The victory leaves Namibia and Mauritius on three points each, and each will be hopeful of winning their final matches in the pool to either top the group or finish as one of the best runners-up.
Only the top team in each pool and the best placed runner-up advance to the semifinals, where they will have the chance to lift the trophy and qualify for the 2019 African Under-17 Championships in Tanzania next year.
The action continues on Sunday at the Stade Anjalay as South Africa take on Mozambique in Group B at 12h00 (08h00 GMT).
Bot opening games in the pool finished as 0-0 draws, so the winners in this second round of games will take a giant step towards the next round.
Mozambique showed their strength with a goalless draw against fancied defending champions Zambia in their opener and will provide a mighty test for two-time champions South Africa.
The second game in the pool between Lesotho and Zambia will be played at the same venue at 15h00 (11h00 GMT).
Botswana 2 (Oageng Maphorisa, Tebogo Kopelang) Seychelles 1 (Rino Pauline)
Mauritius 1 (Jeremy Kawoa) Namibia 0
Mozambique vs South Africa (KO 12h00 local, 08h00 GMT) – Stade Anjalay
Zambia vs Lesotho (KO 15h00 local, 11h00 GMT) – Stade Anjalay
Group A P W D L GF GA Pts
Botswana 2 2 0 0 3 1 6
Mauritius 2 1 0 1 1 1 3
Namibia 2 1 0 1 8 4 3
Seychelles 2 0 0 2 4 10 0
Group B P W D L GF GA Pts
Lesotho 1 0 1 0 0 0 1
Mozambique 1 0 1 0 0 0 1
South Africa 1 0 1 0 0 0 1
Zambia 1 0 1 0 0 0 1
Group C P W D L GF GA Pts
Swaziland 1 1 0 0 3 2 3
Angola 1 1 0 0 1 0 3
Zimbabwe 1 0 0 1 2 3 0
Malawi 1 0 0 1 0 1 0
Matches Played: 8
Goals scored: 22
Biggest victory: Namibia 8 Seychelles 3 (Group A, July 19)
Most goals in a game: 11 – Namibia 8 Seychelles 3 (Group A, July 19)
4 goals – Prins Tjiueza (Namibia)
3 – Tyrin George (Namibia)
2 – Oageng Maphorisa (Botswana), Rino Pauline (Seychelles), Bandile Shabangu (Swaziland)
1– Afandi Aboudou (Seychelles), John Bonomali (Zimbabwe), Langelihle Dlamini (Swaziland), Edmar Kamatuka (Namibia), Jeremy Kawoa (Mauritius), Tebogo Kopelang (Botswana), Netinho (Angola), Thandolwenkosi Ngwenya (Zimbabwe), Jarrel Suzette (Seychelles)