THE Young Warriors are 90 minutes away from reaching next year’s under-20 Africa Cup of Nations.
To realise their dream of lining up in Mauritania, they need to overcome northern neighbours Angola in a Cosafa men’s u20 Championships semi-final on Friday.
Apart from a place in the final to tussle for the coveted regional trophy, the finalists qualify for Afcon and potentially set themselves on the path for a Fifa under-20 World Cup spot.
The Young Warriors have already made good on their promise to reach the last four after finishing second to defending champions Zambia in Group B, which guarantees the action starved youngsters two more competitive international matches.
Zambia finished as pool winners after a 2-0 victory over Malawi on Wednesday, their third win in as many matches, while Namibia took the best-placed runner-up spot after they beat Comoros 1-0.
Namibia captain Steven Damaseb scored the only goal of the game after 77 minutes, when he latched onto a long ball before racing clear of his markers to round the keeper and roll the ball into an unguarded net.
Damaseb also won the player of the match award. More outstanding performances in the remaining matches could nudge him towards another personal incentive.
The player of the tournament at the zonal preliminary competition “will receive a special Spanish La Liga experience, where they will be hosted by Villarreal CF and get the chance to train with the club’s much-vaunted academy team”, Cosafa announced yesterday.
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The Young Warriors have shown great resilience to reach the last four stage. After going down 1-0 to Zambia in their opener, Namibia bounced back with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Malawi before the Comoros result.
Jimmy Mukeya scored a brace as Zambia eased past Malawi to end the hopes of the Young Flames. The holders face Mozambique who upstaged host South Africa to emerge Group A winners.
South Africa needed to beat the Young Mambas in their final pool clash but were held 0-0.
That took Mozambique to seven points and the number one position, with South Africa in second on five points and Zimbabwe, who defeated Lesotho 4-1, on four.
Angola sealed top spot in Group C on goal-difference. Angola’s +3 was better off than Eswatini (even) and Botswana (-3).