This year’s Bayhill under-19 Premier Cup kicks off today, Wednesday April 12, and 2015 champions, Glendene United are ready to try and reclaim their title.
Coach Mangaliso “Shakes” Ntombana made it clear that getting out of the opening stages will require serious hard work and discipline as they are in Group F against PSL side Mamelodi Sundowns, Witbank Spurs and Liverpool Portland.
Their side also has a serious score to settle. Going to last year’s competition as defending champions, expectations were high but they didn’t deliver, embarrassingly going down 2-0 against Atlantic Nacional in the last 16.
Having said that, however, the side from Lansdowne has been on the rise since then. Their under-18 side, for instance, was crowned champions of last year’s Safa Cape Town Coke Cup after beating the then defending champions Masidlale Academy 1-0 in the final. They booked their spot in that final after beating Hellenic 2-1 in the semis.
Prior to that, their under-17 squad was unlucky to lose to Ajax Cape Town in last year’s Engen under-17 knockout Challenge semi final in Parow, following a dramatic shootout challenge. It has, however, been a long time between then and now and the players have gained valuable experience.
It is that experience that makes Ntombana believe they will be able to handle the likes of Mamelodi Sundowns.
He said his side is injury free and ready to reclaim the title they won in 2015 when they beat a highly motivated JL Zwane side in the final.
He said the team has been together for a long time now the players know each other very well.
“We are ready, we’ve been preparing this team since last season and the boys played together in different competitions. This is the same team that did duty in the Coke Cup last year.” he said.
“So, we have a balanced team this year and we are in a group of death. That makes us under dogs. We just need to go there and climb the mountain,” he said.
They were impressive in the qualifiers too, topping their group standings with seven points after winning two and drawing one of their three matches, in the last round of qualifiers in Mitchell’s Plain.
Glendene scored four goals and conceded only one in the process.
They kicked off their qualifying campaign with a goalless draw against Maties. That proved to be the motivation they needed as they came back firing on all cylinders in their remaining matches, showing just why they were crowned champions in 2015.
The Glendene side went on to beat Vasco da Gama and Salt River Blackpool 2-0 and 2-1 respectively, to book their spot in the tournament proper.