South Africa made an astonishing second half comeback scoring three goals in six minutes as they made one of the most amazing comebacks to sink Zambia 3-2 in an exhilarating Africa Under-23 Cup of Nations in Dakar, Senegal on Tuesday afternoon.
Needing a win to remain in contention for a place to the Rio 2016 Olympics, coach Owen da Gama made six changes to the side that lost dismally to hosts Senegal and will sleep a happy man after watching his side turn on the heat in an astonishing second half.
But they were made to sit nervously in the dying minutes as Zambia who had pulled a goal back halfway into the second half chased the elusive equalising goal.
The South Africans now meet Tunisia in three days time knowing a win will almost guarantee them a place in the last four.
In a match billed derby of the Cosafa region, it was South Africa who made a bright start but few scoring opportunities were created by either side.
Owen da Gama’s boys then surged forward in the 16th minute but Phakamani Mahlambi’s final product failed to trouble Toaster Nsabata in goals for Zambia.
As South Africa started to impose themselves, captain Keagan Dolly was at the heart of most of the attacks as Da Gama’s pinned Zambia in their own half.
Benedict Chepeshi then unleashed a rasping shot from a surprise counter attack but Jody February tipped the rising shot over the bar as Zambia manufactured their really promising opportunity.
On the 33rd minute, Benson Sakala tried yet another long range shot as Zambia tried their luck from a distance.
Zambia then took the lead with a sweet volley by Conlyde Luchanga after a great cross from right to put South Africa on the back foot in the 35th minute.
South Africa came back in the second half with guns blazing and it didn’t take time for them to restore parity when Menzi Masuku completed a sweeping attack in the 47th minute.
It was South Africa all the way after the goal with the forwards peppering the Zambia goal and it came as no surprise when Motupa scored two goals in a space of two minutes. First he finished off a good corner kick from the left with a glancing header and then raced free to complete a double in the 54th minute.
It was an extraordinary comeback from a side that went to half time trailing 1-0 and looking out of sorts.
Billy Mutale then pulled one for Zambia after the South African defence went to sleep.
There were nervous closing minutes as Zambia chased the equaliser.