ZAMBIA’s quest for a maiden appearance at the Africa Junior Championship was dashed yesterday when the Under-17 squad was humiliated by a determined South Africa to bow out of the 2013 edition 2-1 on aggregate.
The elimination comes barely a month after the Under-20 kissed goodbye to the Orange 2013 Africa Youth Championship after losing 5-2 on aggregate in the second round of the qualifying series to Mali, who forced a 2-2 draw at Arthur Davies before prevailing 3-0 in Bamako.
South Africa’s Amajimbos will now play the Black Starlets of Ghana in the third and final qualifying round next month for a berth at the Orange 2013 Africa Junior Championship which will be staged in Morocco.
South Africa took the game to Zambia and came close to scoring straight from the start when eventual goal scorer Siyanda Ngcoba, who was a menace all afternoon, forced a good save from goalkeeper Mangani Banda with a cross-cum-shot under a minute from kickoff.
The visitors then scored the all important goal from a goalmouth melee in the 53rd minute when Ngcobo nodded in skipper Ayabulela Mogqwaka’s square ball from the right flank, shockingly sending the local crowd into a rapture.
South Africa enjoyed rare maximum support from the Zambian crowd thereafter as the Osward Mutapa-coached lads crumbled in midfield in the absence of injured skipper Langson Mbewe and Chibwe Mulilo, who according to CAF records has two yellow cards to his name.
Zambia’s only clear-cut chance at goal was a disallowed goal, poked home by substitute Albert Kafwali in the 64th minute, barely four minutes after he replaced Juma Mutale in a double substitution that also saw Kingsley Mukuka coming on for Emmanuel Mumba.
Zambia, particularly skipper Banda, will regret defending the 1-1 draw from the first leg played two weeks ago in Johannesburg played at Moroka Swallow’s Dobsonville Stadium as the agile Young Zanaco goalkeeper resorted to time wasting from as early as the 15th minute.
South Africa dead ball specialist Bongani Kanyile forced another good save from Banda who cut a goal bound setpiece for a corner in the ninth minute while on the other end, Charles Zulu’s shot missed the target with Emmanuel Mumba volleying a loose ball over the bar on 20 minutes.
Mumba pulled a harmless low shot on the turn narrowly wide of the upright of the towering South Africa goalkeeper Jordy February who had an outstanding game.
The match was watched by FAZ president Kalusha Bwalya, Chipolopolo coach Herve Renard and his assistant Patrice Beaumelle.
Zambia coach Mutapa said the defeat was a bitter pill to swallow while his counterpart Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba congratulated his team and advised Zambians not to criticise the technical staff or the team, saying the raw age group was the most difficult to coach.
Zambia 0 South Africa 1