Bright future for talented crop

DMWT's Elithi Mthi and Avendale's Zaahir Davids challenge for the ball.

The demanding nature of the competion saw the Kewtown-based side slump to a 4-1 defeat against eventual winners, Langa’s Don’t Mess With Texas (DMWT), in the semi-final of this weekend’s under-18 Tournament of Hope.

Now in its fourth year, the tournament, hosted by Fulham FC, saw 36 teams battling it out over three days. Matches kicked off at Rocklands High on Friday before moving to the Portland sports complex for the remaining two days.

Slotted in Group G, alongside Mitchell’s Plain’s Rock A Fellas, Bellville’s Holy Cross and Stephanian Ottery,

Avendale proved to be in control early on in the competition, negotiating their way past the group stage with relative ease.

With two goals in the competition, striker Mvuyisi Khonkwana was joint ninth on the goalscorers’ chart.

They kicked off the campaign with a five-goal thriller against Holy Cross, winning 3-2 before playing to a goalless draw against Rock A Fellas and beating Stephs 1-0 to book their spot in the last 16.

They topped the group with seven points following their two wins and one draw.

They also scored four goals and conceded only two in their three group matches.

Avendale went on to beat Leeds Lentegeur 2-1 in the last 16 to set up a quarter-final date with defending champions Greenwood Athletic.

Greenwood proved to be a tough nut to crack as the allowed Avendale’s strikers little space to move.

None of the two sides was able to find the back of the net before the final whistle, which meant the winner had to be decided on penalties.

The Kewtown outfit emerged victorious, winning 4-3 to book their spot in the semi-finals.

They came up against an equally impressive Texas side that topped their own group ahead of the knockout stages, having conceded only three goals in their five matches before semis.

And they proved to as stingy at the back as ever against Avendale in the semis. The Avendale side couldn’t reproduce the form that saw them marching to the semis, losing 4-1 in the process.

Coach Moritz Kossman fatigue and lack of rest between matches proved to be their downfall in the semi finals. He was, however, quick to note that that was not an excuse as other teams faced the same dilemma.

He said his players gave their all in the physically and psychologically demanding victory against the defending champions in the quarter-finals.

“As a result, the players were little tired going to the Texas game. Texas played well, forcing our players to make mistakes,” he said.

“There were, however, valuable lessons learnt from the competition. We played mostly under-17 players and this was a great exposure for them. They took a lot from the competition and that will help them in the long run. They have the talent and are hard-working so, yes, the future is bright,”he said.

Playing in the Cape Town Tygerberg Football Association (CTTFA), the Avendale side had a decent season, winning that association’s Premier League and Knockout Trophies. Their under-19 topped their group in this year’s Metropolitan under-19 Premier Cup, before going all the way to clinch the Plate Section.

Tournament chairman Noel Taylor said the response from clubs before, during and after the tournament was overwhelming.

“We have already received great feedback from a couple of clubs thanking us for hosting this successful event,” he said on Monday, the day after the final was played.

“With the buildup when we started on Friday, I noticed that it was going to be difficult to determine the end results as the standard was very high. With the tournament growing, it became more competitive, clubs became stronger and, according to our stats, there were not many goals scored, which resulted in most matches being decided on penalties,” he said.

Taylor also noted that there were a number of challenges, in the process, too. He said moving to an alternative venue and working on improving the standard of refereeing are among the things they have noted.

“Overall it was a great soccer weekend and with only one injury recorded and was dealt with in a very professional manner. I thank the whole of Fulham Tournament committee for a job well done,” he said.