Edward Chilufya’s header three minutes after the restart of the second half of extra time secured Zambia’s first appearance in the final of the Caf U-20 Africa Cup of Nations as the hosts edged out South Africa 1-0 in the first semifinal played at the National Heroes Stadium on Wednesday.
Chilufya scored the lone goal of the match, his third in the ongoing continental youth tournament when he rose highest to head home a free kick delivered on the edge of the penalty area by Prosper Chiluya.
The free kick was won by Patson Daka who was brought down by Amajita skipper Tercious Malepe.
In a match which offered little in terms of goal mouth action, the closest either side came closest was when Sandile Mthethwa saw his header hit the upright after he connected from a free kick by Luther Singh in the 69th minute while for Zambia it was Enock Mwepu who was unlucky to see his effort hit the upright in the 80th minute.
There were chances for other players too but they were limited to efforts from range and mostly wide of target.
Sibongakane Mbatha had a good chance to break the deadlock in the 70th minute but under pressure from the Zambian defence he skied his effort from inside the penalty area and Patson Daka forced a good save out of Amajita goalkeeper Mondli Mpoto in additional time of regulation time.
Ten minutes into extra time Mpoto struggled to save Chilufya’s effort which Enock Mwepu stole on the follow up only to shoot wide of target from close range.
The match was then stopped for five minutes after teargas fired from outside filtered into the stadium causing players to cover their faces and when it resumed there was only enough time for the two teams to change sides for second half of extra time.
Moments into the second half, Malepe conceded a free kick on the edge of his penalty area and Chiluya stepped up to deliver for Chilufya to make history for Zambia.
Zambia’s historic win means they will face the winner of the second semi-final between Senegal and Guinea.
South Africa will play the loser of the second semi-final in the third place play-off.
All semi-finalists in the 2017 Total U20 Africa Cup of Nations have qualified for 2017 FIFA U20 World Cup which starts in May in Korea Republic.