By NAKAMPE LEKWADU
SEPHUMELELE lived to their name when they out-played favourites Farrarmere Primary to lift the 2014 edition of the Danone Nations Cup at national level.
Not only did they do their province proud, but the Inanda, Pinetown based school in the KwaZulu-Natal also has booked its ticket to Brazil where they will face the world’s best during the Danone Nations Cup which will be held in November.
Before the final match, Sephumelele were regarded as the under-dogs as opposed to their opponents (Ferrarmere) who dished out their best during the Gauteng championships which they emerged as winners, however it was the KwaZulu-Natal side who have had the last laugh after the final after they overcame the Gauteng champs via penalties after the match ended in a goalless draw.
News from their area is that the entire Inanda community arrived at the school on Sunday to welcome the team back and celebrate with them, but according to the team manager, Emmanuel Mkhize, the formal celebration party will take place at the school when it re-opens and they will invite the MEC of Education Nelisiwe Peggy Nkonyeni and other officials to attend.
Mkhize said the victory has been an honour and a blessing. “We came so close to winning the title last year and our strategy since then has been to instill positive thoughts in the team. This win has also shown the boys that their efforts and hard work has paid off.”
The credit must go to the coach, Sabelo Ndwandwe, Mkhize said. “He worked hard in ensuring that the team is physically and mentally ready for the national finals. For the players that were part of last year’s team, this means the world to them.”
Mkhize said that going into the tournament they knew that the Gauteng team was the one to beat. “Gauteng has excellent schools that produce quality players and this year was no different,” he said. “The final was tough, Farrarmere gave us a hard time. It was a challenging game. Both schools deserved to be in the final, they were the best teams on the day.”
Preparations for the world finals will start as soon as the school opens again after the holidays. “We are hoping that the Sports Department in KZN will assist us by providing us with a qualified coach. We know that the competition will be extremely tough in Brazil where we will be playing the top youth teams around the world and we are going to need help in improving the team’s performance.
After the win, the team captain and midfielder, Lukhanya Bayanda Msana, thanked the coach and manager for putting up with the team and believing in them. The final match against Farrarmere was for him the most challenging game. “It was intense, and filled with action. Both schools fought very hard. When the game went to penalties I have to admit I was frightened, but I could see that they were as well. In the end it was our ability to handle our nerves that got us through.
The 2014 Danone Nations Cup World finals will take place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from November 14-16.