THE Zambia Under-17 soccer team yesterday squandered a first half lead to succumb to a painful defeat at the hands of their nemesis South Africa during the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa (SCSA) Zone Six Youth Games men's finals.
With fans expectant of victory hours after watching the women team mint a gold medal, the boys team did not disappoint as Zambia were seeing a double swoop of gold in football as early as the seventh minute when Chibuye Mulilo put his team ahead with a well taken headed goal off a corner by George Mandu to send the crowd into cheers.
As the packed fans inside the stadium were celebrating the goal, an even bigger crowd outside were treated to tear gas fired by the Zambia Police which sent them into all directions.
Back into the game the game slowed down until the closing moments of the first half when Zambia upped the tempo but without further reward.
The second half saw the pair that created and scored Zambia's goal, Chibuye and Mandu benched due to injuries they have carried throughout the tournament while South Africa made tactical changes to add pace to game.
South Africa's introduction of Lacky Fagrie brought instant luck as in three minutes, they took the lead after two well struck goals.
First it was Fagrie who stunned the crowd with a long range shot that caught Zambia goal Mangani Banda off guard and went right above him, onto the cross bar before tamely bouncing beyond the line, the first goal Zambia had conceded in this tournament but this was goal number 16 for South Africa.
Their goal number 17 came three minutes later a floundering Zambia defence saw Timothy Sakala concede possession needlessly and Seriba Kabelo was played in well to easily strike passed Banda and take the lead.
Zambia seemed still stunned by the two goals coming in quick succession and survived two other chances while the strike-force despite getting good scoring chances only ended up being wasteful as this explained the team's poor scoring form of four goals.
"We were disadvantaged by the two substitutions we made, Mulilo and Mandu were injured and that is where we lost the game," Zambia coach Oswald Mutapa said.
His opposite number Ephraim 'Shakes' Mashaba said Zambia became slow after the lead and his three half time changes including that of Fagrie dearly paid off.