Zimbabwe stunned hosts Zambia with a 2-1 victory to set up a final meeting with holders South Africa at the 2018 MOPANI Copper Mines COSAFA Under-20 Championships at the Nkana Stadium in Kitwe on Tuesday.
Zimbabwe ran out deserved winners after coming from behind to beat 2016 winners Zambia, and will now tackle South Africa in Thursday’s final at the same venue, which will kick-off at 15h30.
Zambia will seek to make up for their disappointment when they host Angola in the third-place play-off earlier in the day at 12h00, with the battle for the bronze medal to be fought between the teams.
Zambia looked on course for the final when they took the lead on 37 minutes through star striker Prince Mumba, who netted his fourth goal of the campaign having been supplied by the excellent Lameck Banda.
But within a minute Zimbabwe were level as captain Andrew Mbeba stunned the hosts with a neatly taken strike after Zambia goalkeeper Bradley Mweene had dropped the ball at his feet.
The match was played at a furious pace and swung from end-to-end, but it was Zimbabwe who found the winner as Delic Murimba also netted his fourth of the campaign to join Mumba and South Africa’s Lyle Foster at the top of the scorers list.
Earlier in the day, South Africa advanced after a narrow 1-0 victory over Angola in their semifinal, with Foster grabbing his fourth goal of the campaign.
Monaco-bound Foster showed his quality when he netted from a through-ball by midfielder Nkosingiphile Ngcobo, who put in a Man of the Match display in the centre of the park.
Foster had earlier missed a similar chance, while Ngcobo had a chance to make it 2-0 in the second period, but fired inches wide, and James Monyana was thwarted by Angolan goalkeeper Carlos Peixoto.
South Africa were largely untroubled by the Angolan defence and completed a third match at the tournament without conceding a goal.
They will now hope to retain the title they won in the final against Lesotho 12 months ago as coach Thabo Senong builds confidence ahead of an appearance e at the 2019 African Under-20 Championships in Niger in February.
South Africa 1 (Foster 23’) Angola 0
Zambia 1(Mumba 37’) Zimbabwe 2 (Mbeba 38’, Murimba 70’)
12h00 (10h00 GMT): Angola vs Zambia – Nkana Stadium
15h30 (13h30 GMT): South African vs Zimbabwe – Nkana Stadium
Group A P W D L GF GA GD Pts
Zambia (Q) 3 2 1 0 5 1 +4 7
Mozambique 3 1 2 0 3 2 +1 5
DR Congo 3 1 0 2 3 4 -1 3
Malawi 3 0 0 3 2 6 -4 1
Group B P W D L GF GA GD Pts
South Africa (Q) 2 2 0 0 9 0 +9 6
Mauritius 2 1 0 1 4 5 -1 3
Eswatini 2 0 0 2 0 8 -8 0
Group C P W D L GF GA GD Pts
Zimbabwe (Q) 3 2 0 1 7 5 +2 6
Angola (Q) 3 1 2 0 5 2 +3 5
Botswana 3 1 1 1 2 2 0 4
Lesotho 3 0 1 2 1 6 -5 1
Matches Played: 17
Goals scored: 45
Biggest victory: South Africa 5 Mauritius 0 (Group B, December 3)
Most goals in a game: 5 – South Africa 5 Mauritius 0 (Group B, December 3); Zimbabwe 1 Angola 4 (Group C, December 9)
4 goals – Lyle Foster (South Africa), Prince Mumba (Zambia), Delic Murimba (Zimbabwe)
3 –Daniel Liberal (Angola)
2 – James Monyane (South Africa), Junior Nyamuziwa (Zimbabwe)
1 –Adamo Alifa (Mozambique), Jean Aristide (Mauritius), Peter Banda (Malawi), Chikaiko Batison (Malawi), Tseliso Botsane (Lesotho), Geny Catamo (Mozambique), Edward Chilufya (Zambia), Kamo-Kamo Cumbane (Mozambique), Fernando Duarte (Angola), Adrien Francois (Mauritius), Fasika Idumba (DR Congo), Benson Kolala (Zambia), Luke le Roux (South Africa), Andrew Mbeba (Zimbabwe), Promise Mkhuma (South Africa), Ludovic Milazar (Mauritius), Jelson Mivo (Angola), Jackson Muleka (DR Congo), Nkosingiphile Ngcobo (South Africa), Mbala Nsingi (DR Congo), Jean Roussety (Mauritius), Blessing Sarupinda (Zimbabwe), Resaobaka Thatanyane (Botswana), Tatenda Tumba (Zimbabwe)
Own goals –Jean Francois (Mauritius), Tsepo Mokherane (Lesotho)