South Africa miss out on African Under-20 final after Senegal defeat

South Africa’s hopes of claiming a gold medal at the African Under-20 Championships were ended on Wednesday night when they suffered more semi-final misery on the continental stage with a 1-0 loss to Senegal in Niamey, Niger.

It is the third time in a row they have been ousted at the semi-final stage as they lost to an unfortunate Givemore Khupe own goal despite another impressive defensive display.

Amajita will now face Nigeria in the bronze-medal match on Saturday, with Senegal progressing to face Mali in Sunday’s decider.

But for Thabo Senong, it has already been mission accomplished as the team’s semi-final place meant they achieved their goal of qualifying for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Poland in May.

The match started 20 minutes later after the floodlights failed at the aging Stade Général Seyni Kountché, whose bumpy surface did not help the quality of the football on display.

Senegal dominated the opening half, camping in Amajita’s half as they put immense pressure on the defence, especially through left-wing Ibrahima Drame.

Amajita battled to find an outlet in the Senegal half, with Monyane isolated against the powerful west African defenders.

Not that South Africa goalkeeper Khulekani Kubheka was tested too much either, he made a routine save from Souleymane Aw, about as close as the Senegalese came to finding an opener before the break.

Kubheka made a low stop to deny Drame early in the second period, with the ball cleared just before Ousseynou Niang could get to the loose ball.

Amajita, who had defended so stoutly, fell behind with 20 minutes remaining as Niang twisted and turned in the South African box and his intended cross deflected into the goal off Khupe.

Senegal were able to comformably keep Amajita at bay for the remainder of the match, South Africa’s struggle for goals in the competition continued.