Stade General Seyni Kountche, Niamey
Mali were crowned African junior champions after they overcame the challenge of a battling South African side, beating Amajimbos 2-0 in a thrilling final as the continent's exhibition of 'uncut' junior football gems came to a close in grand style at the Stade General Seyni Kountche in Niamey.
After a goalless first half, Siaka Bagayoko headed home on 67 minutes to give the Eaglets the lead in an evenly balanced between affair.
Amajimbos tried to get forward but efforts by Luvuyo Mkatshana and Eric Mayo did not bother Mali goalkeeper Alou Traore.
Further chances for Malle and Sidiki Maiga were dealt with by keeper Mpoto as did his opposite number when Mayo, skipper Nelson Maluleke and Ntuthuko Mbatha tried some fine combinations to try and pull one back.
The Amajimbos, term for boys in local South African dialect, were in the final for the first time while Mali were runners-up in 1997 in Botswana after a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the junior Pharaohs. Amajimbos best ever finish was a fourth placement in 2005 in Gambia where they lost the third place playoff match to Cote d'Ivoire.
Both sides marched to Sunday's final unbeaten. With respective impressive and enterprising talents, the final lived up to lofty expectations of being a thriller; both sides engaging in in enthralling end to end action.
A cracking final and a befitting end to what has been a hugely successful and spectacular show of Africa's rising stars who together with Guinea and Nigeria now march onto to the global stage of the FIFA U17 World Cup in Chile in October.