Glendene United fly high in qualifiers

Glendene's Sinesipho Ntumbukana, right, tussles with his Salt River Blackpool marker.

Former Bayhill Premier Cup champions Glendene United booked their spot in this year’s tournament, in Belhar, with a convincing display in the last round of qualifiers in Mitchell’s Plain at the weekend.

The Lansdowne-based side found themselves in Group G alongside Maties FC, Vasco da Gama and Salt River Blackpool.

They didn’t really have problems qualifying, as they topped the group standings with seven points after winning two and drawing one of their three matches at the weekend. They scored four goals and conceded only one in the process.

Glendene kicked off their qualifying campaign with a goalless draw against Maties on Saturday. That proved to be the motivation they needed as they came back firing on all cylinders on Sunday. They showed just why they were crowned champions of this same competition 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.

In one of their best performances in this tournament, Glendene were crowned champions after beating Nyanga’s JL Zwane 1-0 in the 2015 final.

The current team, under the guidance of coach Mangaliso “Shakes” Ntombana, has shown that they have the potential to re-live the form that saw their side winning the 2015 edition.

Most of the players in the side were part of the team that lifted last year’s Coke Cup after beating Masidlale Academy 1-0 in the final at Athlone Stadium in October. They made it clear that they want to lift their second major trophy in the space of two years.

Despite winning the 2015 Premier Cup, Glendene didn’t have the best of tournaments last year, as they bowed out in the last 16 following an almost embarrassing 2-0 loss against Atlantic Nacional.

Ntombana said his side knew what they were up against at the weekend and were ready to fight. This, he said, was because they were in one of the toughest groups of the qualifiers but his players came to the party.

“On Saturday, for instance, we played to a goalless draw against Maties. We had some scoring chances but luck was not on our side.

That, however, did not result in our players dropping their heads,” he said.

“Our performance improved against Vasco on Sunday. We got an early goal by Theo “Neymar” Tutu and the second one was scored by Minehle Phewa. In our second game of the day against Salt River Blackpool, our opponents scored first but the boys didn’t panic. We got a set piece, on which we capitalised to level the scoring,” he said.

Looking at his side’s overall performance, Ntombana said his defence was strong, winning every battle.

“The midfielders were superb while my strikers fought for every ball. That showed we were true champions. We’ve been building the team for some time now so I hope the boys will lose in the final, or even win it, this year,” he said.

Ntombana said part of their secret was the fact that they lend most of their players to ABC Motespe side Crystal Palace, so that they could gain that valuable experience.

“Me and my right-hand man Mike Kondleka will do our best so that our boys are ready for the main tournament,” he said.