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COSAFA U-20 Championship: Mozambique and Zambia advance to final, qualify for U-20 AFCON

Friday featured the semifinals of the 2022 COSAFA U-20 Championship in Eswatini but the atmosphere for both matches felt more like a final due to what was at stake. A win for the under-20 sides of South Africa, Mozambique, Angola and Zambia meant a spot at the 2023 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations with the COSAFA region having two representatives at the competition in Egypt, a terrific opportunity for the young players to gain exposure in a highly scouted tournament. Wins on Friday saw Mozambique qualify for their second consecutive AFCON U-20 while Zambia will return to the competition where their last appearance saw them come out as the winners in 2017.

In the early matchup the young Mambas of Mozambique advanced on the strength of an excellent start at the Somhlolo National Stadium in Lobamba, defeating South Africa 2-1. Chaimito Alfandega danced past a couple of Amajita defenders before tapping his finish past onrushing goalkeeper Aden Dreyer to put Mozambique into the lead in the 11th minute. Only four minutes later the South African defense was caught sleeping again when Mozambique captain Keyns Abdala towered above his marker to nod in a corner kick, making it 2-0 at the end of the opening quarter hour.

South Africa fought back but will be disappointed they were not able to complete a comeback. In the 25th minute the Mozambique lead was cut in half when a turnover led to Mduduzi Shabalala’s brilliant through ball finding Brenden Duba, who slipped his low finish past keeper João Fasistencio. It appeared that South Africa would surge back when Mozambique’s Calilo Traore was sent off just before halftime for a second yellow card but Amajita could not muster up an equalizer with their day being summed up by a stunning save from point blank range by Fasistencio in the 78th minute.

Zambia will join Mozambique in Egypt following a tight penalty shootout victory over Angola after a 1-1 draw. Domingos Bandeira gave the Angolan side the lead soon after the half hour mark, rising up to meet a corner kick with a well placed bouncing header to beat Zambia keeper Jeban Tembo. It appeared Angola would double their lead in the 38th minute but Bandeira got in the way of a close range shot attempt from João de Brito to bail the Zambian defense out.

However, Zambia star Chipyoka Songa provided a moment of brilliant to pull the match level in the 41st minute after his curling free kick left no chance for diving Angolan keeper Deogracas Yoka. Neither team could find a breakthrough in the second half and penalties were needed to determine the winner. After both teams converted their first attempts it was Tembo who came up huge in goal, denying Angola’s second attempt from Luís Eusébio. After Angola missed their fourth kick Tembo failed to finish off the win for Zambia on his attempt but then denied Angola’s fifth try to send Zambia through to the final.

Zambia and Mozambique will meet in the final on Sunday. Highlights from both semifinal matchups along with the full penalty shootout from Zambia’s win are below.

Scores

Mozambique 2-1 South Africa

Zambia 1-1 Angola (Zambia win 3-2 in penalty shootout)

Highlights

Mozambique 2-1 South Africa

Zambia 1-1 Angola (highlights from regulation time)

Zambia 1-1 Angola (penalty kick shootout)

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