By NAKAMPE LEKWADU
SCHOOL of Excellence’s Care-taker coach, James Mabena has promised to spoil the day for Limpopo side’s Benny’s Care Academy by beating them in front of their home crowd when they face each other tomorrow.
The two schools lock-horns in the final match of the Metropolitan SASFA Under-16 Cup at the Seshego Stadium outside Polokwane today. Kick-Off is at 12.30pm.
The Gauteng based School of Excellence earned their passage through to the final match after they narrowly beat Free State’s HTS Louis Botha 1-0 in the semi-final match, a courtesy goal of Edwine Sekhwana and Mabena has since told Sports Focus that they have come a long way to be in this final match and they will stop at nothing in their quest to lay their hands to the competition’s title.
“It is a fact that we have been not doing well in this competition in the past and that is about to change as we are seriously looking forward to win this title for their first time ever. We are aware that Benny’s Care are a good side and that they will be a difficult nut to crack come tomorrow, more so because they will be playing in front of their home fans but we are not threatened by them,” said the confident Mabena.
On the other hand, Benny’s Care from Limpopo’s citrus town of Thohoyandou in Venda will be looking forward to win this competition in honour of their late player, Andani Kutama who passed during the last year edition of this competition. This after he collapse in the field of play before he was certified dead upon arrival at the hospital where he was rushed after collapsing.
The school reached the final match after they overcame another Free State side, Ntsu with a hard-fought 1-0 victory. Thondani Phadziri scored the all important goal in the dying minutes of the game to give the home side the much deserved victory that booked them a dream final berth.
Metropolitan brand and executive, Belinda Faulker said the qualification to the final by Benny’s Care was a good thing to have happened as they are the host team.
“After a day of keenly contested knockout football, we couldn’t have asked for a more appropriate conclusion to an exciting tournament, featuring the hometown favourites and the form team of the competition.”
The School of Excellence booked their place in the last four with a 2-0 victory over Zamakuhle while HTS Louis Botha put paid to an all-Gauteng semifinal when they squeaked past Johannesburg Secondary 6-5 on penalties after they were locked at a goal apiece at full time. Ntsu earned their semifinal spot after beating Sunvalley 1-0 and Benny’s Care maintained a local presence in the tournament by holding their
nerve to beat Emthonjeni Wolwazi 3-1 on penalties following a 2-2 draw in regulation time.
On a more solemn note, three teams – Buthabunye from KwaZulu-Natal, Gamohana, from Northern Cape and Mpumalanga’s Tikhontele – were disqualified for serious infractions of the tournament regulations.
“There are comprehensive screening procedures in place to combat this scourge in our game. Occasionally, however, some manage to slip past the initial scrutiny but were picked up in the post-match check. Both SASFA and Metropolitan has a zero tolerance policy to duplicitous behaviour and, following an in-depth disciplinary hearing to establish the respective facts of each case, acted immediately and decisively in expelling the offending teams from the competition,” said SASFA president, Mandla
Concurring with Mazibuko’s sentiments, Faulkner added that notwithstanding the dishonesty of a few bad apples, the overwhelming majority of participants should be commended for playing the tournament in the finest sporting spirit. “The deplorable conduct of these transgressors should in no way diminish the outstanding application and effort of the rest of the field, who have performed with distinction no matter
where they finished up in the overall rankings”, she said.
At the end of a hard day’s football the teams were treated to a Players’ Night, where they could interact with each other on an informal, friendly basis in a relaxing environment, playing a variety of games, including a dancing competition and other amusing fun-filled activities.
The concluding day’s action gets under way at 9am today at the Seshego Sports Complex with teams playing off for ranking positions from 5-15 (three of the original 18 teams having been disqualified), followed by the bronze medal match between Ntsu and HTS Louis Botha at 11am and then the grand final between Benny’s Care and the School of Excellence at 12.30pm