‘Very tough’ final on cards

2013-05-11 00:00

WHAT started out as an eight-team scramble for glory ends today as Maritzburg College and Mehlokazulu Secondary contest the final of the Nashua Maritzburg United Midlands School Soccer Challenge at Harry Gwala Stadium.

The clash will kick off at 11.30 am and is the curtain-raiser for United’s PSL fixture against Ajax Cape Town, which gets under way at 3 pm.

Both sides have been convincing in their progress to today’s final, and the standard of football on offer is expected to be of quality.

College overcame Carter High in the quarter-finals and Alex in the semis, while Mehlo convincingly defeated Ixopo in the quarters and then Haythorne in the semis.

While College, under coach Daniel Haswell, have shown exemplary discipline in the course of the tournament, Mehlo are the more adventurous.

In captain Mpumelelo Sithole, Mehlo boast the tournament’s leading goal-scorer, while College will be waiting to hear if PSL star Bandile Shandu will be available for selection after United coach Ernst Middendorp announces his matchday 18 for the Ajax clash.

“We have a lot of talented players to be able to do without Bandile who have done well for us over the course of the tournament,” Haswell told Weekend Witness yesterday.

“The main thing is that the boys enjoy themselves. It is a great opportunity for them to express themselves on what is a big stage.”

Haswell applauded United and the sponsors for putting together the tournament — the first of its kind in Pietermaritzburg.

“It has been a fantastic initiative and a great addition to the school soccer season,” he said. “As finals go, I am expecting this one to be tight. But more important is that I see this tournament growing from strength to strength over the coming years.”

Mehlo coach Du Zaca was in a confident mood ahead of the clash, and why wouldn’t he be after the form his side has been in?

“I am expecting a very tough final. We have watched them [College] over the course of the tournament and we respect them. They are a very tough and technical team,” he said. “It is going to be very close, but I think that if we have the right application and attitude that we will have a slight advantage and enough to win.”

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