Schools up to measure
Nomlinganiselo Primary School will join eight other provincial champions in the u.12 Danone Nations Cup’s nation finals in Soweto on Saturday 15 September after winning the Western Cape title at JG Meiring Hoërskool in Goodwood last weekend.
The ultimate national winner will travel to Spain in 2019 to compete in the world finals.
Nomlinganiselo beat Phakamisani Primary School 2-0 in the final, after losing to them in the round robin stage of the competition earlier in the day.
Phakamisani had also lost once in the group stages, to St Helena Bay Primary, so the final was between the teams that topped the table and were the best two on display.
The final turned out to be completely different to the earlier round robin game.
Nomlinganiselo learned from the first encounter and completely dominated.
Phakamisani tried to catch them out on the counter attack but the Nominganiselo goal keeper had everything under control and never looked like he was going to concede a goal.
Phakamisani defended well but the pressure proved to be too great and they conceded two goals.
St Helena were in the running, but they drew twice and that took them out of contention.
They had the best spirit of all the teams and will be back next year even stronger now that they know what to expect.
Nomlinganiselo coach, Mazwi Ntokozo, thinks that being the home team helped as some of the other teams had to travel long distances to get to the provincial finals.
“Phakamisane beat us in an earlier game and we thought about the game and decided that they had two very good players and if we stop those two players from getting the ball we will be able to beat them in the final,” he said.
That strategy worked, he said, because in the final Phakamisani’s only game plan was to use those two players and they were unable to change it.
“We have to improve for the national finals, though. All the other teams are provincial champions too, so they will be very good and used to winning. I have called on a couple of specialist coaches to help with the goalkeeper, the midfield and the strikers. I will also tell the boys that we are in the same position as everyone else. The other schools all have to travel, none of them have played each other so they don’t know what to expect,” he added.
Ntokozo said his boys are positive so they are easy to coach, and they learn quickly. “We are going to organise friendlies against the teams in our area. They are not strong, and we can beat them all, but the extra match practice will help the boys.”
The coach is confident that all the youngsters play good soccer. “I have given then names of famous players to watch on TV. I chose them based on the way they play and what position they play in so the boys can go home and watch the tactics they use and how they manage in these positions.”
Ntokoza is aware that the players are not used to travelling so far and that mental preparation is going to be important. “The other teams must watch out for us, because we are not afraid of them,” he said.