Nkunzimbini Junior Secondary School from Nyandeni Libode Municipality is the Eastern Cape Provincial Winners in the Danone Nations Cup tournament.
The win takes them one step closer to their dream of becoming the South African champion school and representing the country at the Danone Nations Cup world finals at the famous Wembley Stadium in London in September.
Their coach, Gideon Maqokolo, has been coaching for 20 years, and has played the game since he was 8 years old. His wealth of experience helped groom his players into a formidable unit.
“I am happy with how the team played in the provincial finals,” he said. “We were well organised and their conduct on the field was impeccable.”
“I have taught them that a tournament setting is different from a friendly match. You need to structure a game plan where you attack positively early in the game and hopefully you can score early and defend a lead without using too much energy. This helps collect points easily and helps avoid draws,” said Moqokolo.
“The provincial final was a good learning curve for my boys. They are not used to playing four games in a day, or playing in a stadium. I believe the challenges we faced has improved the mental strength of my players and when they get to the national finals they will know what to expect.”
Maqokolo has a clear plan for the school. “My goal is to build a very strong under-12 team and then they can progress further as they get older. I am already grooming my under- 9 and under-10 teams to play in the Danone Nations Cup when they get to the right age group.”
Nkunzimbini try to play basic football, Maqokolo says. “I encourage them to use the little time they have to study their opponents on the field so they can read the opposition and attack and defend properly. I love the fact that when my players get home they play soccer in the streets with their peers. We discuss soccer a lot as most of them watch soccer at home. After a game on TV we get together the following day to discuss winning tactics as well as learn new tricks from the game.”