HOSTS Zambia were yesterday stretched to the limit by a determined Lesotho before winning on lottery penalties to book a place in the finals of men's tournament of the Supreme Council of Sports in Africa (SCSA) Zone Six Youth Games.
Zambia will play South Africa's Amajimbo in tomorrow's finals set for Nkoloma Stadium as both teams will be eyeing the gold medal having played to a barren draw in the Group stages earlier.
Goalkeeper Mangani Banda was the hero of the day, saving three spot kicks that assured Zambia of a medal going into the final, while Lesotho will have themselves to blame for failing to win the match in regulation time.
After a barren 120 minutes which saw both sides failing to convert countless chances that came their way with both teams exhibiting some tired legs, the game had to be decided on penalties and Zambia got a scare when Chibuye Mulilo's kick was saved by Lesotho keeper Thabiso Lichaba.
But Mulilo was saved as Lesotho player Mpho Makhaola also had his kick saved by Banda as Timothy Sakala converted his spot sending the goalkeeper the wrong way before George Mandu made it 3-1 with Tokelo Majoro also having his kick saved.
Lesotho keeper Makhaola, who had a fine game stopping a Kingsley Mukuka header on the line in extra time, then stepped up to take his team's fourth kick but the effort was saved by Banda as Zambia clinched a place in the finals.
It would be interesting to see how the players fair against a South African side, that eliminated them from the Africa Junior Championships, having had to play extra minutes ahead of Sunday's final.
South Africa 3 Angola 0
Earlier, South Africa eased through to the finals after beating Angola with goals coming from Tshepo Mashipo who netted a brace with Nhlakanipho Ntuli scoring the other goal to ensure their side remains in contention for a gold medal.
SA are netball champs
SOUTH Africa were yesterday crowned champions of the 2012 Supreme Council for Sports in Africa (SCSA) Zone Six Youth Games netball competition as hosts Zambia could only manage a fourth place finish.
Malawi were runners up despite finishing on nine points same as South Africa but had an inferior goal difference which relegated them to a silver medal with Botswana settling for bronze in this round robin competition that attracted six countries.
Namibia and Lesotho finished fifth and sixth with two and zero points respectively, while more accolades followed South Africa as Danelle Willemse emerged as the tournament best shooter with Bhongo Ngubeni awarded best wing attacker.
The best defender award went to Malawi's Loreen Ngwira with her teammate Joyce Mvula finishing as the tournament overall player.
On the way to winning gold, South Africa thrashed Botswana 80-22 in an interesting encounter played at the National Sports Development Centre (NASDEC) whose closing ceremony was characterised by dances from the participating teams as they sampled Zambian music.
South Africa were in a no compromising mood winning the first quarter 17-6 before increasing their score to 36 -9 as goal shooter Danelle Willemse, whose height was a challenge to the Tswana's, created problems for the defenders scoring with ease.
Botswana tried to organise themselves in the third quarter by attacking more for points but succumbed to pressure and gave it all up with 55-12 loss in the third quarter and the match was completed with a magnanimous 80-22 victory to settle for a gold medal.
In another match played, Malawi easily overcame Namibia taking a 17-4 first quarter lead before claiming the second quarter of 38-12. It was in the third quarter where Namibian captain Sharon Karises was injured and was taken out of the pitch as Malawi sealed the victory by 76-30 in the final quarter to settle for a silver medal.
Zambia wrapped her campaign on a high winning 70-0 beating Lesotho but the result came rather too late to claim any medal.
Sports Permanent Secretary Agness Musunga expressed happiness with the high level performance from the participating players which she said needed to be nurtured and enhanced for them to reach greater heights.
Netball Association of Zambia (NAZ) President Getrude Mukumi said she was happy with showing of the teams and thanked Government for ensuring that the Games were hosted, thus giving the young players exposure.
Confederations of Southern Africa Netball Associations (COSANA) president Lettia Chipandu said the standards of netball in the zone has continued to improve and praised the participating teams for putting up a wonderful tournament, adding that she was looking forward to the next Games in 2014 in Zimbabwe.