South Africa (Amajita) has advanced to the final of the COSAFA under-20 youth Championship after a hard fought 1-0 victory over Angola in Kitwe.  This will be South Africa’s fourth final in a row at the annual tournament. Amajita will now face Zimbabwe, after the young Warriors beat hosts Zambia 2-1 in another semi-final. The final will be staged at the Nkana Stadium on Thursday afternoon.

Like in their previous matches, Amajita started the match well but failed to capitalise. Angola, who had three overseas-based players in their starting line-up, was not a walk in the park. The Angolans’ physical approach unsettled the more skillful South Africans. Lyle Foster missed with a header midway through the first half, but made amends moments later when he scored his fourth goal of the tournament.

Amajita coach Thabo Senong says there are areas that still need to improve if they want to successfully defend their title.

“Very tough match, tough luck to Angola because I think they dominated possession. They were better technically, but well done to our boys because they understood the moments that sometimes when one team is dominating you, you have to try dominate certain moments in the game like in defending. I think we were tested today because we were playing against a very good side. We can only say well done to our Amajita boys because they worked hard as a team to get a good result.”

The 18 year-old Foster will be joining French club F.C Monaco from Orlando Pirates next month

Senong says the future of South African football looks bright.

“Well done he did well; he’s been doing well, but again credit must go to the team environment the team structure because really other players are working really hard to make chances for him. Naturally he’s very brave, he’s always willing to take those chances, but you could see today that his energy levels were dropping because of the number of minutes he has played so far hence we had to take him out and allow him to recover and build him for the next match. But credit goes to the team environment where everyone works very hard.”

There was a light drizzle in the first half, but the rain came down hard in the second half. Senong says the difficult conditions are what the team needs ahead of the under-20 Africa Cup of Nations in Niger in February.

“We are looking forward now to the final, but these are the kind of tests you want isn’t it? You know we are developing players here. We are preparing for afcon, we needed this kind of tough opposition. Well done to Amajita as well it shows that in South Africa we are really developing culture of winning especially at junior level.”

With the final having been brought forward by a day, the two finalists will only have a single day to recover. Also on Thursday hosts Zambia will battle it out for third place with Angola.