An 86th minute goal by Zambia’s Boyd Musonda settled a tight COSAFA Cup u20 final played at the Moruleng Stadium in Rustenburg to bring the curtain down on the tournament.
The goal denied the Burger King-sponsored Amajita a priceless title in a match played at a relentless pace on a cool Friday afternoon (16 December).
With the game deadlocked at 1-1 and both sides throwing everything into attack, South Africa put up a gallant fight and the 2-1 final result is probably not a true reflection of the day’s proceedings.
After a first half in which the bigger Zambians dominated play, Amajita came back strongly in the second half and created a glut of chances, but luck never smiled on them on the day – nothing went well in front of goals.
Zambia began the match at a frantic pace with their strikers causing lots of problems for the hosts.
It didn’t take them long before the home side felt their weight. First, Patson Daka’s rasping shot went narrowly wide before Amajita goalkeeper, Sanele Tshabalala was forced to make a close save from the same striker.
With warning signs not being contained by the South African back four, Kenneth Kalunga took advantage of a miscommunication in the home side’s backline before planting a good shot past a stranded Tshabalala.
It could have been 2-0 after Edward Chilufya has ghosted past a number of Amajita defenders but again Tshabalala came to the rescue of the home team.
Amajita replied through some sporadic counter attacks but Sibongakonke Mbatha’s cross from deep inside the box was too close to the Zambia keeper Mangani Banda.
Zambia replied immediately as they forced goalkeeper Tshabalala to make one save after the other as they threatened to take the game away from South Africa.
But with three minutes to go to half time, Amajita earned a free kick just outside the box and Luther Singh’s powerful shot came off the cross bar and overlapping defender Kabelo Seriba nodded home the rebound to make it 1-1 at half time.
The home side was more adventurous in the second half and created lots of problems for the Zambians who had to rely on swift counter attacks.
With the match headed for a deadlock at the end of regulation time, Boyd Musonda picked up a loose ball deep inside his own area, took a few steps forward before letting go a screamer which gave Tshabalala, who had an outstanding game, no chance.
Knowing they had sealed the win, Zambia celebrated the goal long and hard before the referee blew the final whistle.
Singh finished as the Top Goalscorer of the Tournament with five goals, while Tshabalala was voted as the Goalkeeper of the Tournament.
Zambia’s Musonda walked away with the Player of the Tournament award.