PMB high schools challenge

2014-03-13 00:00

THE second edition of the Nashua Maritzburg United High Schools soccer challenge is set to start this month, as 16 schools battle it out to be the best in the Midlands.

The tournament, which has grown from eight teams last year, will be played in a straight knock-out format with fixtures starting on March 17.

All knock-out matches up until the semi-finals will be played at the Ohrtmann Road complex in Willowton. The semis, final and third/fourth place play-offs will be staged at United’s home ground, the Harry Gwala Stadium.

Yesterday’s draw threw a cat among the pigeons as last year’s finalists — Maritzburg College and Mehlokazulu Secondary School — were pitted against each other in the first round in what promises to be a tasty fixture on March 19.

Mehlo went on to win last year’s tournament via a penalty shoot-out, but it was College who were the real winners as two of their players — Ryan Moon and Ayron Bond — earned professional Maritzburg United contracts through their impressive performances. Catching the eye of the United scouts will be the aim of every player in this year’s competition.

“This tournament now forms part of the club’s annual calendar and it falls in line with our vision to strive for excellence in the city and to provide a platform for new talent to be unearthed,” United’s newly appointed marketing and communications manager Brian Zuma said yesterday.

In addition to the incentive of being crowned the region’s best young football team, all 16 participating schools will receive a brand-new playing kit as well as training equipment, while the coaches of the teams will benefit from a knowledge sharing session with United mentor Steve Komphela.

Defending champions Mehlo’s coach, Dumisani Zaca, told The Witness that he wasn’t too concerned with drawing last year’s runners-up.

“They [College] are a good side. We respect them and it will be a very difficult game,” he said.

“But we have to defend our title. We have no choice.”

College assistant manager Michael Dibben also looked at the draw positively. “Sometimes it is good to get the strongest side out of the way first,” he said.

“We are looking forward to the challenge.”

Nashua Maritzburg United High Schools Soccer Challenge round of 16 fixtures:

March 17: Sukuma Comprehensive v Eastwood Secondary

Kharina Secondary v Sobantu Secondary

March 18: Northbury Park v Linpark High

Maritzburg Christian School v Alex High

March 19: Smero Secondary v Haythorne Secondary

Mehlokazulu v Maritzburg College

March 20: Carter High v Intsika

Edendale Tech v St Nicholas.

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