Zambia has won the 2017 Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), after winning all its matches, beating Guinea 1-0, Mali 6-1 and Egypt 3-1 in the group stage, and beating South Africa 1-0 in the semi-final and Senegal 2-0 in the final. As the tournament was played in Zambia, the whole country could take part in the celebrations. The Junior Chipolopolo’s victory was a welcome relief from years of losses incurred by the Senior Chipolopolo, who have been plagued by losses ever since winning the senior AFCON in Gabon in 2012. However, there was also consternation over Senegal’s alleged use of juju (black magic) on two occasions during the final, but Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs Godfridah Sumaili stated that prayers had won over the devil, but encouraged people to continue “to pray, cancel and nullify whatever charms the Senegalese could have left in the country”.
The top four teams (Zambia, Senegal, Guinea and South Africa) have qualified for the biennial 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup to be held in South Korea in May/June 2017. This is the third time the Junior Chipolopolo have qualified for a World Cup. Previous appearances took place in 1999 (failed to reach the round of 16) and 2007 (reached the round of 16, where it lost to Nigeria). Zambia became the fourth host country to win the Under-20 AFCON after Egypt in 1991, Morocco in 1997 and Ghana in 1999.
The Junior Chipolopolo will be supported by a K1.5 million sponsorship from First National Bank over the next three years.
President Lungu used the opportunity to appeal to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to consider Zambia as a host of the senior AFCON in 2025.