South Africa and East African guest nation Uganda sealed their places in the semifinals of the 2017 Mopani Copper Mines COSAFA Under-20 Championships on Monday as they topped their first round pools on a day of tense action in Zambia.
Thursday’s semifinals, which along with Saturday’s third-place play-off and final will now all be played at the Nkana Stadium in Kitwe, will see the Ugandans take on the top team in Group C and South Africa meet the best runner-up, which has also yet to be determined.
South Africa defeated North African guest nation Egypt 2-1 as they came from behind to steal top spot at the head of Group B.
Mohamed Karem had fired Egypt ahead after 18 minutes as their controlled play allowed South Africa few opportunities.
But the second half was a different story as South Africa stepped up the tempo and were able to feed off the mistakes of the Young Pharaohs.
Nkosingiphile Ngcobo’s deflected shot found the net for the equaliser, and with 20 minutes remaining Luvuyo Mkatshana scored his second goal of the campaign as he slid the ball past Egypt keeper Mohamed Sobhy.
There were plenty of nervy moments for the South Africans in the closing stages, but they were able to keep the Egyptians at bay and claim the win.
These two sides could still meet again in the semifinals if Egypt finish as the best-placed runner-up, something that will only be decided on Tuesday.
In the other match in the pool, goals from Kamo-Kamo Cumbane and Domingos Junior handed Mozambique a 2-0 win over Mauritius in what was a dead rubber.
Uganda sealed their semifinal spot after they came from behind to draw 1-1 with Malawi to take the top position in Group A on goal-difference from the Young Flames.
It had looked as though Malawi would be headed for the knockout stages when Francisco Madinga fired them in front with 20 minutes remaining.
But Uganda have shown a never-say-die attitude in this competition so far and they equalized with nine minutes remaining on the clock, Stephen Mukwala drilled in the qualiser.
Uganda were able to see how the remainder of the match and claim the draw they need. They will face the top side in Group C in the semifinals, with that pool to be finalised on Tuesday.
In the other match in Group A, hosts and holders Zambia claimed victory in their final pool match to finish third in the pool, Francisco Mwepu with the brace as they toppled Swaziland 2-0.
Group C will be concluded on Tuesday as Lesotho take on Angola at the Arthur Davies Stadium (15h00 local; 13h00 GMT), while Zimbabwe tackle Namibia at the same time at the Nkana Stadium.
Lesotho and Zimbabwe both have four points and will be favourites to finish top spot, but it is entirely conceivable that Namibia could pip them with victory over Zimbabwe and a draw between Lesotho and Angola, or a victory for the latter.
All teams will also have the best runner-up spot in their minds as well.
Zambia 2 (Mwepu 50’, 90’) Swaziland 0
Malawi 1 (Madinga 70’) Uganda 1 (Mukwala 81’)
South Africa 2 (Ngcobo 59’, Mkatshana 72’) Egypt 1 (Karem 18’)
Mauritius 0 Mozambique 2 (Cumbane 21’, Domingos Jnr 54’)
15h00 (13h00 GMT): Namibia vs Zimbabwe – Nkana Stadium
15h00 (13h00 GMT): Lesotho vs Angola – Arthur Davies Stadium
Group A P W D L GF GA GD Pts
Uganda 3 1 2 0 5 3 +2 5
Malawi 3 1 2 0 4 3 +1 5
Zambia 3 1 1 1 2 2 0 4
Swaziland 3 0 1 2 4 7 -3 1
Group B P W D L GF GA GD Pts
South Africa 3 3 0 0 5 1 +4 9
Egypt 3 2 0 1 4 2 +2 6
Mozambique 3 1 0 2 2 2 0 3
Mauritius 3 0 0 3 0 6 -6 0
Group C P W D L GF GA GD Pts
Lesotho 2 1 1 0 2 1 +1 4
Zimbabwe 2 1 1 0 1 0 +1 4
Namibia 2 1 0 1 2 2 0 3
Angola 2 0 0 2 0 2 -2 0
Matches Played: 16
Goals scored: 31
Biggest victory: Zambia 0 Uganda 2 (Group A, December 6); South Africa 2 Mauritius 0 (Group B, December 7); Egypt 2 Mauritius 0 (Group B, December 9); Zambia 2 Swaziland 0 (Group A, December 11); Mauritius 0 Mozambique 2 (Group B, December 11)
Most goals in a game: 5 – Swaziland 2 Malawi 3 (Group A, December 6)
3 goals – Muhammad Shaban (Uganda)
2 – Abdelrahman Amr (Egypt), Lyle Foster (South Africa), Order Mamba (Swaziland), Luvuyo Mkatshana (South Africa), Francisco Mwepu (Zambia), Patrick Phiri (Malawi), Raboama Koloti (Lesotho), Muzi Tsabedze (Swaziland)
1 – Hussein Abdelkader (Egypt), Peter Banda (Malawi), Kamo-Kamo Cumbane (Mozambique), Romario Hawiseb (Namibia), Domingos Junior (Mozambique), Mohamed Karem (Egypt), Francisco Madinga (Malawi), Stephen Mukwala (Uganda), Enzo Mungendje (Namibia), King Nasama (Zimbabwe), Nkosingiphile Ngcobo (South Africa), Allan Okello (Uganda)