A Prosper Chiluya free-kick glanced the head of Chilufya past South African goalie Mondli Mpoto on 109 minutes for the only goal of the match.
The goal, though came late brought the National Heroes Stadium in the Zambian capital onto its feet, as the hosts sweated past regional rivals, South Africa, for their first ever final appearance in the history of the biennial championship.
But it did not come on a silver platter, against a South African side that were rarely intimidated by the huge turnout at the 60,000-capacity stadium, giving the host their stiffest test in the tournament thus far.
With a balanced defence, Amajita was the better of the two sides in the opening minutes, winning three corner kicks in succession by the quarter-hour mark.
After a first half with no clear cut chance at goal, both teams resumed strongly and with former Zambia coach Herve Renard in the stands, the Chipolopolo soon began to find their feet.
Enock Mwepu was unlucky to break the deadlock when a clearance by a South African defender bounced off his body only for the post to deny him. Just on the stroke of full time, Mpoto was to his side’s rescue with a superb save off a Patson Daka goal bound shot to force the game into extra time.
During extra time, Chilufya settled matter with a flicking header from Chilufya curling shot from a free-kick to send the crowd at the packed stadium onto the cloud nine.
Zambia will now play the winner of Thursday’s other semi-final between Senegal and Guinea in Ndola in Sunday’s final, whilst South Africa faces the loser in the battle for bronze.
Total Man of the Match: Edward Chilufya
Beston Chambeshi (Head Coach, Zambia)
South Africa caused us a lot of problems. They had a very good defensive organization that prevented us from developing our attacks. Congratulations to them but I also say bravo to my players who did not give up and wanted to score to qualify before penalties. It was a very good match and either team could have won. For the final, we have no preference whatever the opponent we will play to win it.
Thabo Senong (Head Coach, South Africa)
Congratulations to Zambia who just qualified for the final, but the match could have gone the other direction. Tonight, the two teams were close to each other and I told my players not to be afraid. We played well but it was Zambia that won. They are the tournament favourites and that's why we did not hesitate to play against them towards having a good preparation for this tournament. All the games that will be played will serve as preparation for the players. I am proud of them and this team has made so much progress.