Late goals on Thursday took pre-tournament outsiders Namibia and Mozambique to the Cosafa Cup final in north-west South Africa mining village Moruleng.
Peter Shalulile atoned for several hard-to-believe misses by slamming the ball into the net from close range on 83 minutes to give Namibia a 3-2 triumph over Madagascar.
Substitute Luis Parkim performed his match-winning act even later with an 89th-minute header earning Mozambique a 2-1 victory against Botswana.
Namibia and Mozambique meet on Saturday at Moruleng Stadium for a R500 000 prize, preceded by a third-place playoff between Botswana and Madagascar.
But Zimbabwe were eliminated at the group stage after a hammering from Namibia, and South Africa and Zambia lost quarterfinal penalty shootouts.
Another quarterfinal produced the biggest shock as Ghana, hot favourites despite bringing an all-local squad, succumbed to Madagascar, a country 124 places lower in the world rankings.
Having to play five matches in 11 days caught up with the Indian Ocean islanders against Namibia, however, and coach Franck Rajaonarisamba admitted the better team reached the final.
“My boys were tired in the second half and spent too much time defending instead of creating scoring chances,” he told reporters.
Namibia coach Ricardo Mannetti was his usual animated self, saying his team had discovered a “winning mentality” during the Cosafa Cup.
“We made a lot of mistakes as did Madagascar. What swung the match in our favour was self belief,” said the former ‘Brave Warriors’ midfielder.
The opening half was both exciting and error strewn with each side scoring twice courtesy of gifts from careless defenders.
Namibian Benson Shilongo became the leading scorer in the tournament after Malagasy sloppiness and slowness presented him with two tap-in goals.
Sarivahy Vombola raised his Cosafa Cup goal haul to three thanks to a brace within four minutes for Madagascar following two Namibian miss-kicks.
Botswana coach and former West Ham United midfielder Peter Butler was fuming after the loss to Mozambique in the second game of a double-header.
“Suicidal defending cost us the match. It was scandalous. Schoolboys would have done better,” he barked.
Isac De Carvalho soared above taller rivals to nod Mozambique into a 65th-minute lead and Omaatla Kebatho levelled on 78 minutes with a snap-shot after goalkeeper Cesar Machava failed to grasp a free-kick.
Additional reporting by supersport