Glendene sit pretty on the podium

Glendene's Cole Hartzenberg on his way to scoring the equaliser against Ajax in their semi-final clash.

Inspired by their flamboyant goalkeeper Lorenzo Steyn, Glendene United were among the best sides in this year’s Engen under-17 Knockout Challenge, finishing third after beating hosts Vasco 1-0 in the play-offs, in Parow on Sunday.

Their solid run came to an end after the Chucker Road side lost 4-2 on penalties against Ajax in the semi-finals.

Steyn was brilliant between the sticks for his side and his performance didn’t go unnoticed as he was named goalkeeper of the tournament.

The youngster deserved the award as he conceded only two goals in open play, in five matches.

He produced some of the match-winning performances for his side along the way too.

Their semi-final match against Ajax was one of the most entertaining matches of the tournament with both sides playing with flair and energy.

Ajax scored first but, when everyone thought they were through to the final, Glendene scored a dramatic late equaliser forcing the match into penalties. However, Ajax proved more clinical in the spot kicks, winning 4-2.

Glendene then had to take one host Vasco da Gama in the third place play-off.

Played in front of a strong crowd, that was another exciting match but Glendene’s second half goal was enough to see them settling for the third spot.

Among the favourites to lift the trophy, Glendene lived up to expectations in the early stages of the tournament.

They kicked off their campaign with a 1-0 win over the fast improving Ikapa side in their first group match. They went on to beat Maties 1-0 before playing to a goalless draw against Greenwood United.

That performance saw them taking on Avendale in the quarter finals and, once again, Steyn produced a clean sheet as they beat Avendale 1-0 before losing on penalties to Ajax, in the semis.

Coach Michael Kondleka said he was happy with his side’s performance against Ajax, despite losing.

“That was a difficult game for both sides. We matched them in all departments and, when they scored first, we didn’t panic.

“We kept our shape and continued to look for spaces to exploit. We eventually found one right at end, taking the match to penalties,” Kondleka said.

He said their game plan was to keep their shape and concede as few goals as possible, while trying to exploit weaknesses in their opponents’ play.

“That worked well for us in the competition and, in terms of our semi-final match, things could have gone either way but, as they say, penalties are just a lottery. Overall, I am happy with the way the boys performed,” said Kondleka.