Zambia are the Cosafa U20 Youth Championship 2016 champions after they defeated hosts and defending champions South Africa 2-1 in the final played at the Moruleng Stadium on Friday evening.
Zambia, already the most successful team at the start of the tournament, have now won the competition which started in 1983 a record eleven times.
Zambia were using the 2016 edition of the competition to prepare the team for the 2017 Africa U20 Cup of Nations in which they are placed in Group A with Egypt, Mali and Guinea. They will be satisfied that they won the competition with a 100% record in which they scored 14 goals while conceding only 3 in the process.
Kenneth Kalunga gave Beston Chambeshi’s men a deserved early lead when he combined with Patson Daka to fire home a low shot into the bottom right corner to beat goalkeeper who was wrong footed at the near post.
Despite their dominant display, Zambia failed to hold on to their lead which lasted until the 41st minute when goalkeeper Mangani Banda acrobatically kept out the tournament’s top scorer Luther Singh’s free kick but there was nothing he could do to keep out Kabelo Seriba who bundled his effort home after following up on a rebound.
Player of the Tournament Boyd Musonda scored the winner with five minutes remaining on the clock when he fired home at the top of the box following a sustained moment of pressure by Zambia.
“Today is an exciting day. I think the work that we have put in is now bearing fruit. We did indicate earlier that we wanted to end the year on a high note. It is a well job done and I can only thank our patron, His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu. He has done a fantastic job. He has supported football through and through. He has been our all-weather friend,” said Football Association of Zambia president Andrew Kamanga.
“The Sports Minister was there in attendance as you saw he came to lift the trophy. I thank him for his support. To my friends in the Executive Committee, let’s continue working. We need to prepare the team adequately. The more effort we put in, the more good results will show. We still have a mandate of four years. Today’s result is an example of what we expect.
“I thank the Zambian supporters and ask them to continue supporting the team. Even the U17 team is doing very well. We the foundation we have in the U17, U20 and U23 teams we hope to have strong senior national team in the next year or so,” he said.
And coach Beston Chambeshi said he had picked some lessons from the competition which will be applied in future matches.
“South Africa played a good game but I am happy that we broke them down and scored two goals. I am happy with the way we played and I am taking away some good lessons for the Africa U20 Cup of Nations," he said.