Benson Simwanda scored a late winner for defending champions Zambia as they claimed a 1-0 victory over Lesotho to set up a winner-takes-all clash against the South Africans in the final Council of Southern African Football Association (COSAFA) under-17 championship group match on Tuesday.
South Africa beat Mozambique 4-1 in the other group B match.
According to the results released by cosafa.com Zambia looked as though they would be left frustrated by Lesotho before their late success, but the latter had the best chance of the opening half as Tebello Lethoko was denied by a fine stop from Philip Malunga in the Young Chipolopolo goal.
Vincent Kalinda saw his effort cleared off the line in the second half, while Enock Sakala missed a cross with the goal gaping. But the defining moment came with a minute left when Simwanda headed home, much to the relief of the team.
And Zambia assistant coach Tenant Chilumba says the final group match against South Africa will be tough.
“I would like to congratulate both Zambia and Lesotho for the good game. imIt was not an easy game but we were determined to win. The next game against South Africa will be very tactical but we will go all out,” Chilumba said.
The action continues on Monday when the second round of games in Group C are played.
Malawi and Zimbabwe both lost their opening matches and must win when they meet at the Stade St Francois Xavier at 12h00 (08h00 GMT).
Malawi, who have finished third at the last two COSAFA Under-17 Championships, were edged by Angola and Zimbabwe were surprise 3-2 losers to Swaziland.
For the loser of this game, or even if it ends in a draw, it will likely end the hopes of making the semifinals, where only the top team in each pool and the best placed runner-up advance to the knockout stages.
Angola and Swaziland could take a giant step towards the next round if they end victorious when they meet at the same venue at 15h00 (11h00 GMT).
Neither of these nations has appeared in the last two editions of this competition, but could make a massive impact.
The COSAFA Under-17 Championships serve as a qualifier for the 2019 African Under-17 Championships that will be played in Tanzania, which in turn is a qualifier for the FIFA World Cup in Peru later in the year.