HOSTS Zambia made it two wins from two Group A games as they kept on course for the semifinals of the 2018 MOPANI Copper Mines COSAFA Under-20 Championships with a 2-0 victory over DR Congo at the Nkana Stadium on Thursday.
Zimbabwe had become the first side into the semifinals earlier in the day as they claimed Group C without kicking a ball, and Zambia look on course to join them after an accomplished display against Central African guest nation.
The hard work was done in the first half when Benson Kolala opened the scoring on 18 minutes and Prince Mumba netted his third of the competition just before the half-hour mark.
The result means that DR Congo, with defeats in their opening two games, now cannot make the semifinals and will be going home after Saturday’s final match against Malawi.
Mozambique had to come from behind to secure a point against the Malawians in a 1-1 draw, a result that leaves both sides still in contention for a place in the knockout stages. Malawi grabbed a first half lead through Banda but were pegged back on the hour mark as Adamo Alifa equalized for the Mozambicans, who could still take top spot in the pool if they beat Zambia in their final game on Saturday.
Zimbabwe sealed their place in the semifinals on Thursday without kicking a ball after Angola were held to a 0-0 draw by Botswana in their Group C clash at the Nkana Stadium. That result means that Zimbabwe cannot be caught at the top of the table after they opened their campaign with a pair of victories and a full haul of six points.
Angola could still qualify as the best-placed runner-up, but would need to beat Zimbabwe in their final group game on Sunday to stand a chance. The young Angolans were frustrated by a Man of the Match performance from Botswana goalkeeper Thabo Motswagole, who put in a superb display with a string of excellent saves.
Mauritius rebounded in Group B from a 5-0 loss to South Africa in the opener to defeat Eswatini 4-0 to stay in contention for a semifinal place. They must now hope that Eswatini get a win by at least two goals over the South Africans in that fixture on Saturday to force their way into the next round on goal-difference.
Although COSAFA used head-to-head to separate teams on level points, it three or more teams are equal then they are separated by goal-difference or, if needed, by goal-scored.
Friday will be a rest day at the competition, with the action to resume at the weekend with three more key fixtures in which Groups A and B be decided.
Defending champions South Africa will need just a point to advance from Group B in their final game against Eswatini that kicks-off at 13h00 at the Nkana Stadium.
That will be followed by the final two games in Group A that will both kick-off at 15h30.
Hosts Zambia clash with Mozambique at the Nkana Stadium, while Malawi and DR Congo do battle at the Shinde Stadium.
Mauritius 4 (Aristide 4′, Francois 17′, Milazar 29′, Roussety 49′) Eswatini 0
Angola 0 Botswana 0
Malawi 1 (Banda 21’) Mozambique 1 (Alifa 60’)
Zambia 2 (Kolala 18, Mumba 24) DR Congo 0
13h00 (11h00 GMT): South Africa vs Eswatini – Nkana Stadium
15h30 (13h30 GMT): Malawi vs DR Congo – Shinde Stadium
15h30 (13h30 GMT): Zambia vs Mozambique – Nkana Stadium