Scoring early goals was crucial in nailing a win over Zambia, South Africa's head coach Duncan Crowie said. The young Bafana Bafana beat their COSAFA rivals 3-2 in Constantine on Wednesday to put their TotalEnergies U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaign back on track.
They had started off with defeat to Morocco, but a statement win over Zambia was necessary to put their last eight hopes in check.
"We scored an early goal which really helped us settled. We also created more unlike the Morocco game and I am happy for the goals. The players had courage and we had good mental strength to put in a performance like that," said the tactician.
South Africa had 17 shots at goal against Zambia, nine of them being on target and three ending up in the back of the net. They also had an improved number of key passes (14) compared to their first game.
Crowie was delighted with the fight shown by his players and that they have given themselves a realistic chance to make the quarter finals.
"It was a difficult game and at times we struggled with defending the long balls from Zambia. We had played against them twice before and lost and this time we did our homework well, prepared better and we knew what to do," the coach added.
He will now switch his attention to their last group match against Nigeria, a tie that still holds huge importance as the two jostle for one of two available automatic qualification slots.
Nigeria is also on three points and whoever wins that duel will finish second.
"Nothing is done yet. This is a tough group and anything can happen. We still have work to do but at least now we have a win to work with. We will just need a draw in that match to get through," noted the coach.
South Africa will be keen to battle for second spot as it will give them a fairer draw in the quarter finals.