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Amajimbos, Basetsana give SA winning start

By Gareth Duncan in Lusaka, Zambia

The SA U17 men’s and U20 women’s football teams won their opening matches at the Zone VI Games on Thursday.

The SA U17 men’s football team eased to a 4-0 win over Malawi at the Zanaco Sunset Stadium.

The Amajimbos opened Team South Africa’s campaign at the Zone VI Games in style, dominating their first match in immense heat at the centre of Zambia’s capital.

Midfielder Nhlakanipho Ntuli starred for the victors as scored two goals. Wing Bongani Khanyile, who put an outstanding first-half performance, opened the scoring, while captain and defender Ayabulela Magqwaka completed the rout with a strong volley inside the box.

Head coach Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba will admit that his side should’ve finished more of their chances, as poor finishing saw several other goal opportunities squandered.

The SA U17s went ahead in the eighth minute, after a long through ball from goalkeeper Sibongiseni Mhkize exposed the space down the Malawian right flank. Khanyile had the pace and vision to run on to the ball and he beat opposition goalkeeper Dalitso Makunganya on the inside post.

Malawi’s best chance came via striker Vincent Chavi, who skied his attempt over the crossbar after a swift turn put him one-on-one with Mhkize. Either than that, Magqwaka and central partner Rivaldo Coetzee formed a strong rearguard on defence. Mhize also deserves plaudits for his safe hands and composure at the back.

Ntuli doubled South Africa’s advantage shortly before half-time with an easy shot near goal. The Amajimbos held a 2-0 lead at the break.

The match was settled early in the second stanza, with Magqwaka’s sweet strike finding the net in the 50th minute before Ntuli converted a penalty moments later.

Meanwhile, the Basetsana picked up a hard-fought 1-0 win over hosts Zambia at the Nkoloma Stadium.

The match was hailed as the feature fixture of the opening day, as it followed the opening ceremony and was played in front of a huge home crowd. But the SA U20s spoiled the party as they emerged as the victors after a physical game.

Both teams struggled to hold on to possession and lacked composure in front of goal, but the visitors’ threat at the set-pieces created their breakthrough. Shortly before half-time, South Africa edged ahead thanks to midfielder Tshegofatso Makinta’s effort. She latched on to defender Meagan Newman’s long freekick and beat the Zambian goalkeeper from close range.

Zambia had most of the momentum in the second half, but couldn’t turn their ascendancy into goals. Goalkeeper Kaylin Swart proved to be a hero for South Africa.

The hosts eventually found the back of the net – from a rebound following a great save from Swart – but the score was disallowed because of offside. The SA U20s did well to hold on for the win.


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