Academy gets another shot at title

2017-08-23 06:01
Virginia Sports Academy players and coach Pitso Mokoena (left) and manager Hector Mokhali (right) celebrate winning this year's Free State leg of the Engen Knockout Challenge. Photo: Supplied

Virginia Sports Academy players and coach Pitso Mokoena (left) and manager Hector Mokhali (right) celebrate winning this year's Free State leg of the Engen Knockout Challenge. Photo: Supplied

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The Virginia Sports Academy will represent the Free State at this year’s Engen Champ of Champs national final. This year’s national final will be staged in Johannesburg during the holiday in October.

The final will feature the winners of the other provinces. The victorious school from Virginia qualified on the basis of winning the provincial leg of the competition after beating Brebner High School by 4-2 on penalties. The two teams failed to produce a winner in regulation time.

While the academy prides itself on winning the competition a record nine times this year, Brebner also made history by reaching the first final provincially. The closest attempt ever was the semi-final.

The Virginia Sports Academy is yet to win the national title of the competition despite making it to more than eight finals of the Champ of Champs.

Last year the Academy, led by former Free State Stars and Bloemfontein Celtic midfielder Pitso Mokoena, lost to Botshabelo’s Roo Stars in the final.

However, Stars’ tour ended in tragedy at the national final. The Botshabelo team’s Kabelo Qabala­tsane (16) died in hospital after he collapsed during the opening match. Host SuperSport United cancelled the boys’ tournament participation following the tragic incident.

The Free State teams in the tournament featured 16 of the best youth teams, including HTS Louis Botha, who suffered a 2-1 defeat to Brebner in the semi-final. The second semi-final saw Virginia dispose of Bloemfontein Celtic by 1-0 via a penalty.

Sechaba Mokoena of the academy was the big winner after being named both the 2017 Engen Knockout Challenge defender of the tournament and player of the tournament. He received an additional one-year endorsement from Engen Knockout Challenge technical partners Umbro.

The other individual award winners were Lehlohonolo Mahlatsi (referee of the tournament), Lerato Rauthimo of Brebner (best goalkeeper, his second successive award at the Engen Knockout Challenge), Thabo Dlamini of Thotagauta (top goalscorer of the tournament), Thabang Thoabala of Celtic (best midfielder), Kutlwano Ntholeng of Brebner (best striker) and Pitso Mokoena (coach of the tournament).

The Fairplay Team of the Tournament award went to Navalsig High School from Bloemfontein.

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