Gauteng, Mpumalanga, USSA and KZN in the semi-final of SAB U21 Championship

 

USSA completed the group stages of the SAB Under 21 Regional League Championships with four out of four wins, the only side to do so which puts them well on track to defend the title they won last year.

They defeated Eastern Cape 3-1 to finish on top of Group B with 12 points.

Their coach Thomas Thema puts down good preparation as the main reason for their good run.

“I am pleased with the performance that the team displayed so far which has seen us move a step closer to defending our title,” said Thema.

“We came with a different approach to first play the ball in the air because we knew that our opponents were tired and then changed our approach once the game started. Good preparation for the tournament is the reason we are where we are and it says a lot about the team we have to be able to change styles and personnel with ease without interfering with the results.”

A brace from centre-back Lawrence Ntswane in the first half and another goal by Ruben de Freitas in the 84 th minute were enough to see USSA through despite Eastern Cape mounting a serious comeback. The Cape side pulled one back through Simphiwe Swartbooi, and could have bagged the second had Nelson Mahlatsi converted from the spot kick.

USSA’s victory sets up a mouth-watering semi-final tie against KwaZulu Natal – two different yet entertaining teams looking at USSA’s tactical play and KZN’s skilful approach.

KZN finished in second place with eight points in Group A following a 1-1 draw against hosts Mpumalanga, who top the group after winning a case over Limpopo for fielding a player with a red card. The decision led to KZN’s loss to Limpopo reversed, and they were awarded their three points to end the Group stages with 10 points.

Mpumelelo Sithole’s strike for KZN in the 42 nd minute was cancelled out by Vusi Phala’s goal in the last kick of the match.

Gauteng finished their group stages campaign with a 6-2 victory over Free State. Both teams had a chance of qualifying for the last four and needed a win, but it was Gauteng who wanted it more. They will now face Mpumalanga in the other semi-final.

Western Cape, Limpopo and North West finished third, fourth and fifth respectively in Group A, while in Group B Northern Cape, Free State and Eastern have packed their bags after also ending on third, fourth and fifth positions respectively.  

 

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