Mehlo take schools cup

2013-05-14 00:00

THERE is no doubt that a penalty shootout is the cruellest way to lose a cup final, and so it was for Maritzburg College.

They went down 5-3 from the spot to Mehlokazulu Secondary in Saturday’s final of the Nashua Maritzburg United Midlands School Soccer Challenge at Harry Gwala Stadium.

After the rain had threatened to cause administrative havoc, the final went ahead in a match that was the curtain-raiser for Saturday afternoon’s PSL clash between United and Ajax Cape Town.

Both sides had been dominant along their path towards the final, and a tight clash was always expected.

With chances creeping up for both sides during the course of the match, there was no score by the end, and with no extra time allocated, the match went to penalties.

College had shown great composure in their semi-final victory over Alex High when all of their players scored their spot kicks to book a place in the final, but that counted for nothing on Saturday. The boys from Imbali got their hands on the trophy of a remarkably promising tournament for school football in the region.

For Mehlo coach Du Zeca, the victory was a rich reward for the preparation that his side put into the tournament. “I think in the game we were tactically superior, we were very well prepared,” he said.

“But College are a very tough team to play against and they have a lot of quality. We knew before the game that it would be very close.”

College coach Daniel Haswell was gracious in defeat.

“I just want to say congratulations to Mehlo,” he said. “Obviously we desperately wanted to win, but we didn’t take our chances and losing on penalties is never a nice feeling.”

The tournament was launched by the sponsors and United, and is an ideal opportunity for schools in and around Pietermaritzburg to get in some pre-season game time on a big stage before their seasons get under way. With plans to expand the tournament next year, Haswell applauded the organisers.

“It has been an excellent initiative and it ran smoothly throughout,” said Haswell. “The standard has been exceptionally high and the soccer has been competitive. The pool of talent that we have in Pietermaritzburg has surprised a lot of people.”

Haswell’s sentiments were shared by Zeca, who said that the talent on offer was quite special.

“There were really good players from all of the schools involved,” he said. “I hope that some of them were noticed and that they are given the opportunity to go further. It was an exciting tournament and all of my players learnt a lot. It would be great if the tournament could grow further, but for a start it was fantastic.”

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