PSL vet a driving force behind club’s success

Former Santos FC professional player Marawaan Bantam.

Penlyn Estate’s Marawaan “Beans” Bantam and his Steenberg United teammates narrowly missed out on promotion to the National First Division (NFD), following last week’s promotion playoffs, in Bloemfontein.

After steering Steenberg United to a second-placed finish in his first season with the club, the veteran Premier Soccer League (PSL) campaigner, was also the driving force behind the club’s success this year and helped them win the regional second division’s ABC Motsepe league title.

Two years back, he helped Cape Town All Stars win promotion to the NFD. And, Steenberg coach Mike Lukhubene is also familiar with promotion – he won promotion to the second tier with Chippa United in the 2010/11 season.

However, the duo were unable to spur their side on through this playoff competition.

“Kings United topped our group to win promotion – we were one point behind them,” said Beans.

“We beat Tornad FC from Port Elizabeth 1-0 in our opening game; then lost 4-3 to Durban’s Kings United in the second match.

“We played Apollo FC from Mpumalanga in our third game and won 4-0; before beating Rustenberg’s Orbit College 2-0 in our final game.

“It was a good experience for the younger players in the squad, now they know how tough it is and this is a good learning curve for next season,” he said.

Earlier this year, Steenberg United also did well in the Nedbank Cup and were knocked out by PSL side Platinum Stars in the round of 32. They lost 5-4 on penalties following a 1-1 draw.

The second division league title was decided on the final day of the season as they only had a one point lead ahead of last year’s champions, Glendene United.

Steenberg faced Manenberg’s Crystal Palace away from home, while Glendene played The Magic FC. “The last game was always going to be a tough one because we played at the Greens Astroturf, in front of a hostile crowd. The younger players were a bit nervous before the game because the crowd was chirping us, saying we are not coming here to beat Crystal Palace,” said Beans.

“But I reminded them that we were there to do a job, and we needed to go out there and do the business. I started on the bench in that game because coach has a motto that he doesn’t change a winning team. And, I was not part of the team that won in our previous league match.

“Palace scored in the first six minutes of the game and led by one goal up until the last minutes of the game. I came on in the 85th minute and we equalised two minutes later through Ismaeel Stanfield.

“Then, defender Edmund Petersen scored the winner for us during added injury time,” he said.

The former Santos player said the match goes down as one of the highlights of his soccer career.

Some other memorable matches include playing against Sundowns and Orlando Pirates while donning the Santos jersey.

“In the game against Sundowns, I was not part of the coach’s plans and needed to make my presence felt. I scored two goals against them and we won 3-1 win. Shortly after that match, I scored a brace against Pirates in a 2-2 draw – that’s when my career took off.

“Winning the league with Steenberg has been fantastic.

“What made it more interesting than when I won it with All Stars, is that it was more tough and went down to the wire. With All Stars we were well ahead and already knew we would take the league,” he said.

Beans started playing soccer at his neighbourhood club, Blue Gum Wizards, in Bonteheuwel.

After a couple of seasons he moved to Sporting United and had stints with Saxon Rovers and Avondale in the NFD – before he signed his first professional contract with Santos and then moving to Bidvest Wits and Mpumalanga Black Aces.