South Africa through, Zambia exit Under-17 AFCON

COSAFA side South Africa have sealed their place in the quarterfinals of the TotalEnergies U17 Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria, but there was no such joy for Zambia this weekend.

South Africa advanced as one of the best third-placed finishers in the group stages and will now meet powerhouse Senegal in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Senegal were arguably the standout team from the group stages, winning all three games with seven goals scored and none conceded.

South Africa moved through despite a 3-2 loss to Nigeria, but there was no such luck for Zambia despite their thrilling 2-1 victory over Morocco.

Emmanuel Mwanza, who was Man of the Match in that game, believes Zambia leave the tournament with their heads held high.

“I am happy to be named man of the match and definitely happy that as a team we managed to win this match. I want to congratulate my teammates for the effort we made to achieve this result,” Mwanza said.

 “We leave with pride because at least we won a match. As much as some things didn’t go as planned, we will pick the positives as we move forward.”
Those thoughts are echoed by his coach, Ian Bakala, who believes there is much they can take from the tournament.

“I think this is a good experience for us as a team. We have picked so many lessons from the tournament and definitely, there is an urge to go back home, restructure and qualify again to do better,” Bakala said.

“We regret the two defeats of course, but I think my players worked really well. We are still learning and we will continue to work towards more qualifications. This is the development phase of these players and I trust they will do well from here.”