Voice of Sport

It’s semi-final time in Zambia, a tournament where Somalia has better record than Kenya

Home supporters of Young Chipolopolo led by most ardent Zambian President Edgar Lungu say it is for their boys to lose. They already qualified for the 2017 Fifa U20 World Cup in South Korea in May


2017 U20 Africa Cup of Nations:

Semi-finals:

Wednesday, March 8:

(18.00, National Heroes Stadium, Lusaka)

Zambia v South Africa

Thursday, March 9:

(18.00, Levy Mwanawasa Stadium, Ndola)

Senegal v Guinea

….

ZAMBIANS are fired up and hoping their country wins the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations for the first time but firstly they must get beyond South Africa on Wednesday afternoon’s semi-final at the National Heroes Stadium, Lusaka.

The tournament is Africa’s most important outside senior football and a bridge to the Africa Cup of Nations. Twenty two countries have finished fourth or above in the U20 tournament which before 2003 was an U21 event.

Facts

Some telling facts are Kenya only taking part once and being eliminated in round one of the 1979 tournament [by Ethiopia on 2-4 aggregate]. And, incredibly, Somalia went all the way to finish fourth in 1987, before their political and problems and war in 1991.

The best performing Cecafa [Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations] region team are Burundi who reached the 1995 final in Nigeria but lost 0-4 to Cameroon. Ethiopia finished third twice (1993, 2001) and fourth twice (1979, 1985).

President Lungu

After undefeated and commanding performance in the group stage, even one of Young Chipolopolo most ardent supporters, Zambian President Edgar Lungu came out saying his boys had the championship to lose. He said the investment the country had made in youth sports was finally paying dividends and that the U20 AFCON trophy will be a great gift for the country.

Indeed it is a fabulous tournament in great 60,000 and 40,000 capacity stadiums in Lusaka and Ndola patronised by packed crowds.  “Obviously Zambia can win this tournament. It’s a team to beat. We are winning it [the trophy],” President Lungu said.movie Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Finished fourth

The hosts will be hoping their efforts do not come a cropper in the semis, the furthest they have ever gone and finishing 4th in 1991 [in Egypt] and 1999 [in Ghana] when the age-group was U21,  and under the current U20 format when they also finished fourth in 2009 (in Congo).

The South Africans will not be a pushover in today’s semis. Their best was in 1997 when they lost the U21 final 1-0 to Morocco in Morocco and finished fourth in 2009 when the tournament was held in Rwanda.

Football unites

What had been left was for the expectant President Lungu to rally his countrymen and women saying: “As Zambians, let’s keep united, let’s love one another and let’s enjoy Zambia. The game of football unites us. The beauty of winning is we are all friends now,” the national newspaper, Times of Zambia, carried his plea.

“Given the decisive and steady progress the Junior Chipolopolo are making in the ongoing  championship, I am more than convinced that we are on course towards forming a solid senior team that can bring us greater glory not too long from now,” the President said.

Optimism

Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president Andrew Kamanga expressed optimism that the team would win the trophy. On Wednesday morning, Kamanga urged the players to put up their best get past South and win the final, making Zambia African kings at youth level for the first time.

Reaching the semi-finals earned the four teams African slots in the 21st Fifa U20 World Cup in South Korea between May 20 and June 11, 2017.

“Qualification to the Fifa Under-20 World Cup finals was our primary target. I am proud that we achieved this with a sense of sheer class, passion and pride befitting our people and our motherland,” Kamanga said. Zambia played in the 1999 and 2007 Fifa U20 World Cups.

Standings and results:

Group ‘A’

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts  
1  Zambia (H, A) 3 3 0 0 10 2 +8 9  
2  Guinea (A) 3 1 1 1 4 4 0 4
3  Egypt (E) 3 0 2 1 2 4 −2 2  
4  Mali (E) 3 0 1 2 3 9 −6 1

(A) Advance to a further round; (E) Eliminated; (H) Host.

RESULTS:

February 26, 2017:

Zambia  1–0  Guinea
Daka  47′    
National Heroes Stadium, Lusaka
Referee: Juste Ephrem Zio (Burkina Faso)
 
Egypt  0–0  Mali
     
National Heroes Stadium, Lusaka
Referee: Victor Gomes (South Africa)
March 1:
Guinea  1–1  Egypt
Touré  79′   Abdalla  37′
National Heroes Stadium, Lusaka
Referee: Jackson Pavaza (Namibia)
 
Mali  1–6  Zambia
Danté  5′ Report F. Sakala  7′, 65′
E. Banda  24′
Mwepu  37′
Chilufya  49′, 53′
National Heroes Stadium, Lusaka
Referee: Joshua Bondo (Botswana)
March 4: 
Zambia  3–1  Egypt
Daka  51′, 90′
Fashion Sakala  73′
  Karim Walid  36′
National Heroes Stadium, Lusaka
Referee: Martins De Carvalho (Angola)
March 4: 

 

Guinea  3–2  Mali
     
Levy Mwanawasa Stadium, Ndola
Referee: Antoine Max Effa Essouma (Cameroon)

Group ‘B’

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts  
1  Senegal 2 1 1 0 5 4 +1 4  
2  South Africa 2 1 0 1 6 5 +1 3
3  Cameroon 2 1 0 1 5 4 +1 3  
4  Sudan 2 0 1 1 2 5 −3 1
RESULTS:

February 27:

 
                       
Senegal  1–1  Sudan
Niane  88′   Mutwakil  21′ (pen.)
Levy Mwanawasa Stadium, Ndola
Referee: Ibrahim Nour El Din (Egypt)
 
Cameroon  1–3  South Africa
Ayuk  14′   Singh  16′, 26′ (pen.), 57′
Levy Mwanawasa Stadium, Ndola
Referee: Thierry Nkurunziza (Burundi)
2 March:
Sudan  1–4  Cameroon
W. Mohamed  79′ Report Ketu  8′
Ayuk  51′
Gouet  73′
Mbaizo  89′
Levy Mwanawasa Stadium, Ndola
Referee: Wisdom Chewe (Zambia)
March 2:
South Africa  3–4  Senegal
Jordan  1′
Malepe  24′
Singh  81′
  Ndiaye  49′
Diagne  54′, 61′
Diatta  70′
Levy Mwanawasa Stadium, Ndola
Referee: Louis Hakizimana Rwanda)

 March 5:

Senegal  2-0  Cameroon
 Niane Goal 45′
Diatta Goal 48′
   
Levy Mwanawasa Stadium, Ndola
 
Sudan  1-3  South Africa
 

Osman Goal 24′  
   Mahlambi Goal 13′
Margeman Goal 60′
Mbatha Goal 66′

National Heroes Stadium, Lusaka

-Additional reporting by Agencies