Namibia face South Africa in the final of the COSAFA U-17 championships tomorrow after both teams came through contrasting semi-final matches in Mauritius yesterday.
The South Africans thumped Kenya 4-0 in their Last 4 fixture, while Namibia needed a late equaliser to take their tie against Malawi to penalties, where they eventually won 6-5.
Kenya received a re-entry into the competition after Group B winners Zambia were disqualified for fielding two over-age players in the competition – Nicholas Mulilo and Benjamin Phiri. It meant Malawi finished as the top team in the pool and Kenya second, earning the latter a semifinal with South Africa.
But the young South Africans roared into the final with a comprehensive victory, as they overwhelmed their East African opponents.
They took the lead on 10 minutes when Mjabulise Mkhize picked his spot perfectly to fire home past the stranded Kenyan goalkeeper George Ouma. Thabiso Monyane thought he had doubled the advantage but his effort was ruled out for offside, though South Africa did not have to wait long for their second goal.
Midfielder Luke le Roux scored from a superb free-kick just before the half-hour mark. And it was 3-0 seven minutes later when Lina Mchilizeli profited from a mistake by Ouma, as a goal-kick found its way into his path and he coolly curled the ball into the back of the net.
There was only one goal in the second period, as South Africa completed their rout through Bonga Dladla, who also scored directly from a free-kick. Malawi were on top for most of their semifinal and after missing a number of opportunities, took the lead after a fine goal from outside the box by Peter Banda.
It looked as though they would hold on for the win as well until Namibia’s Eldery Morgan popped up with an equaliser two minutes from time. That took the game to a penalty shoot-out and when Innocent Shema missed his spot-kick, the Namibians triumphed 6-5. – www.cosafa.com