Hosts Zambia and South Africa played out a thrilling 0-0 draw in the men's Under-17 football competition on day four of the 2012 Zone VI Games in Lusaka on Monday. There might not have been any goals, but the Group A clash had the capacity crowd on the edge of their seats in the pouring rain as numerous chances were created at either end.
South Africa's Nhlakanipho Ntuli missed a penalty for his side on 33 minutes, putting the ball wide after Zambia's Paul Phiri was adjudged to have brought down Bongani Khanyile in the box.
Zambia came out blazing in the second half, but chances for captain Langson Mbewe, Spencer Sautu and Chibuye Mulilo all went begging.
South Africa had a chance to win it right at the final whistle but a free kick on the edge of the box from the ever-menacing Ntuli drew a spectacular save from home goalkeeper Mangani Banda.
Monday's other match in Group A was equally as thrilling as Malawi edged Botswana 4-3 to stay in touch with the front two in the pool.
Botswana skipper Thatayaone Ramatlapeng scored a brace for his side, with Kabelano Mooketsane also on the score sheet. But Malawi claimed the win when Abraham Kamwendo, Brian Phiri, Wongani Kuchisanja and Lessman Singini scored for them, the latter getting the winner a minute from time.
South Africa heads the table with seven points, in front of Zambia on goal-difference. Malawi is a further point back, while Botswana and Seychelles have yet to break their duck.
In Group B, Angola moved back into contention for a semi-final place as they beat Swaziland 3-0 to climb to third in the pool. Carlos Muondo Dala scored the first hattrick of the competition to lead his side to the win. Namibia had to come from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw with Mauritius in the other game in Group B.
The Mauritians streaked ahead as Kervin Gael Deise opened the scoring, before Namibia's Risto Makuti scored an unfortunate own goal.
But Namibia struck back to earn a point as a brace from Uaseuako Katjiukua in the second period pegged Mauritius back.
The group B table is a tight one, Namibia lead with five points, followed by Lesotho and Angola on four (though Lesotho have played a game fewer), Swaziland have three and Mauritius two.
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 Nkoloma Stadium. The action in the women's Under-20 competition continues on Tuesday when Zimbabwe play South Africa at the Zanaco Sunset Stadium at 13h00, while Zambia and Namibia meet at the same venue at 16h00.
Zimbabwe currently top the table with six points from their first two matches, followed by South Africa on four, Namibia on one, while hosts Zambia have still yet to get off the mark.
The semi-finals in the women's Under-20 competition feature the team that finishes first in the pool take on the bottom side, while second meets third. The third-place play-off will be played on December 14, with the final scheduled for the Nkoloma Stadium on December 16.
The football competitions at the Zone VI Games are being run by the Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA).