Defending champions South Africa sealed their place in the semifinals of the 2018 MOPANI Copper Mines COSAFA Under-20 Championships with a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Eswatini in their Group B clash in Kitwe on Saturday.
The victory means South Africa finish the three-team pool with a full haul of six points, with nine goals scored and none conceded.
Eswatini battled hard in the game and only trailed 1-0 at the break, but were picked apart by the clinical South Africans in the second period.
It took until the 37th minute for the South Africans to break the deadlock as Luke le Roux was teed-up on the edge of the box and his curling first-time shot nestled into the top corner.
Monaco-bound striker Lyle Foster made it 2-0 with a powerful header after excellent work from lively Mkhuma, who supplied a pin-point cross, netting his third goal of the tournament.
It was 3-0 on 84 minutes when James Monyane netted a fine solo effort, bamboozling the Eswatini defence before volleying home with power.
The final strike came after a defensive calamity saw Eswatini lay the ball on a plate for Promise Mkhuma to score the goal his performance deserved.
Zambia were already assured of a semifinal place before their clash with Mozambique, but came away with a 1-1 draw that ensured they finished top of Group A.
The opening goal of the game came from captain Edward Chilufya, who side-footed the ball into the corner of the net from Prince Mumba’s low cross.
But Mozambique kept on pushing for an equalizer and when home goalkeeper Bradley Mweene, the nephew of stalwart senior national team stopper Kennedy, spilled the ball, it caused a thrilling goal-mouth scramble.
The ball was eventually put into the net with an over-head kick by Mozambique captain Kamo-Kamo Cumbane.
The score remained 1-1, leaving Zambia top of the pool with seven points and Mozambique on five, with the latter now facing an anxious wait to see if they will finish as the best runner-up and meet South Africa in the semifinals.
They will do so unless Angola beat Zimbabwe by two clear goals, or get a single goal win but score three or more goals.
Zambia, who conceded their first goal of the tournament, will now meet Group C winners Zimbabwe in the semifinals.
In the other game in Group A, Central African guest nation DR Congo claimed a consolation 3-1 victory over Malawi despite finishing the game with nine players.
Chikaiko Batison had put Malawi into an early lead, but the Congolese responded soon afterwards with a strike by Fasika Idumba.
They took the lead on the stroke of halftime as Mbala Nsingi scored, before red cards for captain Batista Masikini and Batoba Makangila left them with a numerical disadvantage.
Despite that, they found a game-clinching third goal late on through Jackson Muleka to leave the competition with some consolation.
South Africa 4 (Le Roux 37’, Foster 52’, Monyane 84’, Mkhuma 86’) Eswatini 0
Malawi 1 (Batison 2’) DR Congo 3 (Idumba 8’, Nsingi 45’, Muleka 81’)
Zambia 1 (Chilufya 13’) Mozambique 1 (Cumbane 78’)
15h30 (13h30 GMT): Lesotho vs Botswana – Shinde Stadium
15h30 (13h30 GMT): Zimbabwe vs Angola – 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) 2 2 0 0 6 1 +5 6
Angola 2 0 2 0 1 1 0 2
Lesotho 2 0 1 1 1 5 -4 1
Botswana 2 0 1 1 1 2 -1 1
Matches Played: 13
Goals scored: 35
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)
3 goals – Lyle Foster (South Africa),Prince Mumba (Zambia), Delic Murimba (Zimbabwe)
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), Adrien Francois (Mauritius), Fasika Idumba (DR Congo), Benson Kolala (Zambia), Luke le Roux (South Africa) Daniel Liberal (Angola), Promise Mkhuma (South Africa), Ludovic Milazar (Mauritius), Jackson Muleka (DR Congo), Nkosingiphile Ngcobo (South Africa), Mbala Nsingi (DR Congo), Jean Roussety (Mauritius), Resaobaka Thatanyane (Botswana), Tatenda Tumba (Zimbabwe)
Own goals – Jean Francois (Mauritius)