The Zambia U20 men’s national football team is through to the final of the ongoing 2016 Cosafa Youth Championship following a 2-1 victory over Congo DR in the first semi-final played at the Moruleng Stadium on Wednesday.
In this evenly contested encounter which could have gone either way, Zambia took the lead in the 36th minute when Patson Daka intercepted the ball and released Fashion Sakala who fired home at the far post from inside the box to take his tally to four goals in four matches.
However, the lead was short-lived as Congo got back on level terms through Chadrack Lukombe who was unmarked inside the box when a loose ball from a blocked effort fell into his path, his strike ensuring a stalemate at the break.
Both coaches made changes for the second half with Congo coach Ottis Ngoma Kondi introducing Agee Amongo for Rachidi Kuamanbu at the break while Zambia coach Beston Chambeshi took off Chrispin Sakulanda for Jacob Phiri in the 50th minute.
Phiri almost broke the deadlock two minutes after his introduction, his pace proving a menance for the Congolese defence but the goalkeeper was equal to the task.
Sakala and Daka had good several good chances after the hour mark and were only kept from scoring by goalkeeper Kama Kamalunduaku who was in inspired form.
However, there was nothing Kamalunduaku could have done in the 77th when Boyd Musonda netted from a free kick which was won by Daka following a foul on the edge of the area by Ernest Sita.
The victory was Zambia's fourth without defeat at the tournament having seen off Zimbabwe (5-1) and Malawi (3-0) during the group stage while they dispatched Mozambique via a 2-0 win in the crossover match played on Tuesday.
"It was a good game with a good result," said Chambeshi after the match.
"Congo gave us a good run but am happy with the character displayed by my boys in today's match. I hope that we will maintain the same spirit in the final."
Chambeshi played down any need to celebrate reaching the final undefeated having scored 12 goals while conceding two in four matches.
"We are still building and preparing the team for the Africa U20 Cup of Nations. We are taking positives from our victories so that we come up with a stronger team.
"It is good to know that we are receiving praise but for me and my technical bench we are still in the building phase," he said.
Chambeshi's men will play the winner of the second semifinal between hosts South Africa and Angola on Friday.