Cosafa Cup: 'New' Zambia to face Zimbabwe in final
Justin Shonga scored twice for Zambia as they clinched a place in the Cosafa Cup final with with a 4-2 win over Tanzania in South Africa.
They will now play Zimbabwe in Sunday's final after they edged past Lesotho 4-3 in the other semi-final of the southern African regional championship.
"We came with a new team and for them to get to the final is a major achievement," Zambia coach Wedson Nyirenda said.
"I commend my boys for that."
Zambia were among the top six seeds and only entered at the quarter-final stage and will be much fresher for the deciding game as they seek a record fifth success.
The Zambians fell behind after 15 minutes to Tanzania as central midfielder Erastus Nyoni delivered a superb free kick to open the scoring.
But he went off soon after with an ankle injury and left a gaping hole in the middle of their formation that the Zambians exploited with quick goals on the stroke of half-time from Brian Mwila and Shonga.
A penalty converted by Jackson Chirwa made it 3-1 early in the second half and Shonga then scored the fourth - a sumptuous dipping free kick from outside the box.
"I practice it all the time. It is what Ronaldo does," he said afterwards.
Simon Msuva scored a late second consolation for the guest side from east Africa.
It is something a Herculean feat for Zimbabwe to advance, having had to play with the minnows in the first week group stage of the tournament because of their poor ranking.
They have come through five games in 10 days, scoring 16 goals in the process, and despite their obvious fatigue are now also chasing a record fifth southern African championship title.
Mutizwa had been benched for Zimbabwe's last two games but repaid coach Sunday Chidzambwa's faith with three goals that ensured their progress.
The first from a 19th minute corner gave Zimbabwe a little breathing space.
"We were lucky to get that early goal because Lesotho were taking control of the game," said Chidzamba afterwards.
The Basotho equalised just before half-time through Sera Motebang but it was Mutizwa's finish that restored the lead in the 51st minute before the speedy Talent Chawapiwa made it 3-1 with just over 20 minutes left.
Lesotho refused to go away, and combined with a tiring Zimbabwe, pulled one back again in the 80th minute - a clever build up finished by substitute Mabhuti Potloane.
But within two minutes Mutizwa's predatory skills had claimed a fourth goal for Zimbabwe and although there was a stoppage time penalty for Lesotho, the victory was secured.