A late Menzi Masuku goal gave South Africa a 1-0 win over Tunisia Friday in Senegalese city M’Bour and an African 2016 Olympic Games qualifying tournament semifinals place.
Senegal won the other Group A match 1-0 against Zambia in Dakar through an early Mouhamadou ‘Habib’ Diallo goal to finish with a perfect three-victory record and nine points.
South Africa came second with six points, Tunisia third with three and Zambia lost all three games to exit the competition pointless.
Senegal face the Group B runners-up in the first semifinal of a Dakar double-header next Wednesday followed by South Africa against the Group B winners.
Algeria, Nigeria and Egypt are in contention for knockout places from Group B, with the final matches on Saturday also involving already-eliminated Mali.
The Algerians and Nigerians have four points each ahead of a Dakar showdown while Egypt, two points behind, meet Mali in M’Bour, a coastal city 70 kilometres south of the capital.
South Africa could afford to draw at Stade Caroline Faye while Tunisia had to collect maximum points.
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Clearcut first-half chances were scarce in dusty conditions with captain Keagan Dolly going closest for South Africa through a free-kick that goalkeeper Sabri Ben Hassen acrobatically parried to safety.
Tunisia finished the half strongly and unmarked Khaldoun Mansour chose the wrong option when wasting a close-range chance as he tried to score at the near post rather than aiming for the far corner.
The North Africans dominated much of the second half with the aerial strength of Haythem Jouini and his fellow attackers putting the South Africans under continuous pressure.
South Africa finished stronger, though, and squandered several good chances before Masuku snatched the match-winner five minutes from time.
Phakamani Mahlambi sped past three defenders in a solo run before crossing for unmarked Masuku to tap the ball into the net.
Assured of topping the table before they kicked-off at Stade Leopold Sedar Senghor, Senegal needed only four minutes to grab the match-winner against Zambia.
Sylvain Badji floated a corner to the edge of the six-yard box and a powerful Diallo header flew beyond new goalkeeper Kenny Mumba.
Mumba got the nod ahead of off-form Toaster Nsabata, who was replaced as captain by Salulani Phiri.
Footballers born on or after January 1 1993 are eligible for worldwide Olympic qualifiers with three over-age players permitted at the finals in Brazil next August.