South Africa’s Men’s Under-20 National Team continued their impressive run in this Commonwealth Cup tournament taking place here in St Petersburg, Russia after overcoming Belarus 4-3 on penalties after the match had ended 1-1 on regulation time. Amajita showed their never-say-die attitude having fallen behind in the 73rd minute when they equalised in the 90th minute after they had been awarded a penalty following sustained pressure in the dying minutes. Captain Motjeka Madisha dusted himself up to plant the spot kick past Belarus goalkeeper Denis Scherbitsky.
The South Africans now go into the final where they will play either Finland or Turkmenistan on Sunday before returning home on Tuesday. There was very little to talk about in the opening minutes as both teams tried to size each other. In the 15th minute, Pule Maraisane had a thunderous shot sailing narrowly over the bar as Amajita started to fashion something.
As was the case with the quarter-final encounter against hosts Russia, Maraisane’s swift feet were proving a handful for Belarus. South Africa then started to put on a good display and in the 27th minute, Siyanda Ngubo had a glancing header going just wide as Amajita started to turn on the heat. Tlotlo Leepile then sent in a dipping shot but the tall Belarus cleared the danger as the matched headed for half-time deadlocked at 0-0.
The same pattern followed in the second half and Maraisane saw his low shot well collected by Belarus keeper Scherbitsky on in the 51st minute. From a good position Leepile blasted his effort over the bar as Amajita still probed the Belarus goal area trying to unlock it with little success. Then from one of the fastest counter-attacks, Belarus surged forward resulting in striker Vladislav Klimovich poking a loose ball past Dumisani Msibi to make it 1-0 in the 73rd minute.
But not to be outdone after putting a lot of work into the tournament to get this far, South Africa fought back and equalised at the stroke of full-time when Motjeka Madisha made no mistake from the spot. As both teams searched for the equaliser in the referee’s optional time, both defences stood firm as the match was decided by penalties.