ZAMBIA's hopes of winning a medal at the 2012 Supreme Council for Sports in Africa (SCSA) Zone Six Games faces a stern test today when the junior side renews rivalry against South Africa at Nkoloma Stadium.
This match also offers the Zambian team the opportunity to avenge the 2-1 aggregate defeat and elimination suffered at the hands of South Africa during Africa Junior Championships first round qualifiers.
Zambia managed to hold South Africa 1-all in Johannesburg but went on to lose 1-0 at Arthur Davies Stadium and this match could not have come at a better time than when both sides are aiming to advance to the semi-finals.
South Africa lead the group on goal difference over Zambia as both teams have won their opening matches to be on six points ahead of Seychelles, Malawi and Botswana, who were by press time still searching for their points.
With both sides on six points and jointly leading Group A, a win for either Zambia or South Africa will secure a place in last four regardless of what will happen in the last game they will both play.
Having played each other twice before just over a month ago in the Africa Junior Championships qualifiers, there will be no love lost when the two teams come up against each other knowing a place in the semi-final will be on offer.
South Africa has been on rampage netting four goals against Malawi in their first game and then putting three past Botswana in the second game in which they showed character by coming from 2-1 down to win the match 3-2.
Zambia has been more cautious in her approach scoring twice against Botswana before a moderate 1-0 over the Seychelles but one positive the Oswald Mutapa side will be carrying into this game is that they have a clean sheet up to now while South Africa leaked twice against Botswana.
This afternoon's game might just be the match of the Games so far with Mutapa obviously expecting Chibuye Mulilo, who scored a brace in the 2-0 over Botswana, Paul Phiri, Langson Mbewe, George Mandu, Kayawe Kapota among others to continue with their fine form and deliver the result.
South Africa coach Ephraim 'Shakes' Mashaba would be banking on the likes of Bongani Khanyile, Nhlakanipho Ntuli and Ayabulela Magqwaka to score him the goals to advance to the semi-finals.
The top two teams in each pool advance to the semi-finals, to be played on December 14, with the third-place play-off scheduled for the following day. The winning semi-finalists will meet in the decider on December 16 at Zanaco Sunset Stadium from 15:00 hours.
In Group B, Namibia remained on course to grab a semi-final slot following their 1-0 win over Swaziland after drawing their opening game 0-0 with Angola. Lesotho and Swaziland are tied on three points but were separated on goal difference.