Host Zambia beat Senegal to claim title

Zambia beat Senegal 2-0 in the final on Sunday in Lusaka to be crowned champions of the Total U-20 Africa Cup of Nations Zambia 2017.

First half goals from Patson Daka and Edward Chilufya was all the Junior Chipolopolo needed to claim their first ever title in the history of the biennial competition.

Besides being the second Southern African country after Angola (in 2001) to be crowned champions, Zambia’s feat makes them the fourth host to claim the ultimate after Morocco (1997), Ghana (1999) and Congo (2007).

Zambia was the only team in the competition to win all matches and they capped their campaign in grand style with the title in hand.

Watched by a full house at the 50,000-capacity Heroes National Stadium in the capital, Lusaka, including President of the country, Edgar Lungu, the Junior Chipolopolo ensured the fans left the stadium the happiest.

Senegal really tested the Zambians but their efforts were little enough to save them from a successive final defeat. ‘Les Lionceaux’ lost 0-1 to Nigeria in the 2015 final on home soil.

It was the Senegalese who started on a positive note and on seven minutes, Ibrahima Niane tested Zambia goalie Mangani Banda with a low shot, which Banda collected calmly.

On the quarter-hour mark, Fashion Sakala was gifted with Zambia’s first major chance. He outwitted his marker but his angled shot missed target by inches.

Two minutes later, the stadium erupted as Daka gave the Junior Chipolopolo the lead capitalising on a blunder by Senegal goalie Lamine Sarr. Sarr failed to make a firm grab of Sakala’s seemingly harmless shot and Daka who was lurking around slotted home to send the over 50,000 fans into a frenzy mood.

The goal brought out the best of ‘Les Lionceaux’ who stepped up their game in search of the equalizer. However, it was Zambia who managed to score on 34 minutes from yet another mistake by Sarr. The goalie in his bid to clear his lines saw his shot come off the body of Chilufya as the ball headed straight into his own net.

Senegal were the better team in the second half dominating in possession and pinning the Zambians to their half with Niane and Aliou Badji coming close a couple of times.

Midway, the host almost scored the third following a one-two between Enock Mwepu and Sakala that saw Daka at the receiving end. Daka lobbed past onrushing Sarr only for Senegal captain Mamadou Diarra to clear the ball off the line to his side’s relief.

The final minutes saw the Zambians defence kept boiling following raids by the Senegal attack, however they held on to claim victory.

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