18 local teams in draw

2016-03-08 06:00
Young soccer players will compete in the Metropolitan Premier Cup in Belhar over the Easter weekend in the annual competition well-known for talent scouting.

Young soccer players will compete in the Metropolitan Premier Cup in Belhar over the Easter weekend in the annual competition well-known for talent scouting.

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The draw for this year’s Metropolitan Premier Cup (MPC), otherwise known as the Bayhill Cup tournament, took place at the Sports Science Institute in Newlands last Wednesday.

The tournament is considered Africa’s premier youth soccer competition and is unofficially known as the “breeding ground of South Africa’s future soccer stars”.

This year’s tournament takes place at Erica Park in Belhar over Easter weekend from Wednesday 23 to Monday 28 March. The opening ceremony will be held on Friday 25 March.

The tournament draw saw 18 Cape sides, including two multiple former winners in Ajax Cape Town and Hellenic, joined by 14 top-notch teams from around SA and abroad.

Reigning champions Glendene United from Lansdowne will have their work cut out to defend their crown. The international guest teams this year are Swansea City from Wales and Zambia’s Zesco FC.

The tournament is played in front of crowds of more than 25 000 spectators, which always include talent scouts.

The likes of Benni McCarthy, Matthew Booth, Nasief Morris, Moneeb Josephs, Thulani Serero and Rivaldo Coetzee gained crucial experience and exposure in the MPC. Last year’s player of the tournament, Mihlali Mayambela, was signed after the tournament by Djurgården, a club in Sweden.

Llewellyn Allen, brand head of Metropolitan, describes the tournament as “a massive community event as well as a world-renowned youth soccer festival”.

PJ Williams, the tournament director, says demand for spots in the tournament, with R105 000 in prize money up for grabs, was extremely high and the local Cape clubs who made it in draw deserved congratulations for getting through the tough qualification rounds.

Williams, who has been involved in the tournament since its inception in 1989, has no doubt that this year’s line-up is one of the best ever and that the finals will “deliver an exciting Easter weekend of action”.

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