SuperSport Schools Plus

Action and thrills in The Ultimate Showdown

By Siya Pongco , in Football | Featured Football | News , at 2023-11-27

After a thrilling showdown at Kaizer Chiefs Village in Naturena on Sunday, David Mathebula‘s Chiefs’ u19 team advanced to the semifinals of the Gauteng Development League (GDL) Youth Cup.

They secured a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win over Highlands Park after the rivals had played to a hard-fought 1-1 draw in regulation time.

The game of the week was undoubtedly the one that everyone was waiting for. Some had even termed it “the final before the final”.

From the first minute of the contest, both teams exhibited a hunger to take it to their challengers, with the high-flying clubs eager to exert their dominance over the opposition.

Manqoba “Pelembe” Ozoemena. Photo: Thando Mjiyako

The Phefeni Glamour Boys, playing on their home ground, quickly found their rhythm. GDL champions, Highlands Park, on the other hand, adopted a physical approach and made their presence known.

The young referee, Tseliso Rapuleng, from Soweto, was called to task, with fans, players and coaches all making their voices heard. Rapuleng, however, showed he was the right man for the big occasion, making some tough decisions and dishing out several yellow cards to the players and coaches alike.

The stalemate was broken early on when Highlands Park took the lead after Keagile Chaane converted a rebound from a penalty shot by Mokoena Napthali, which had been saved.

Despite being on the backfoot, Chiefs kept their shape at the back and their attacking intent, at the other end of the field, was unfaltering.

It was 1-0 to Highlands Park at the break, but there was no let-up when the second half kicked off, as the combatants continued to show why they are the two best teams in the league. Chiefs pressed for an equaliser and the Lions of the North pressed for a second goal to establish a cushion.

Both created opportunities, but for a long time neither found a finish. Kaizer Chiefs were awarded a penalty, but they were unable to level matters. It looked as if it would be Highlands Park’s day. However, with only seconds remaining on the clock, Phakamani Jwara, the Chiefs’ captain, equalised to take the contest to penalties.

Kaizer Chiefs Captain Phakamani Jwara interviewed by Itumeleng Banda. Photo: Thando Mjiyako

After the game, coach David Mathebula, said his players knew that playing Highlands Park would not be an easy task. They had been crowned league champions for a reason.

Mathebula said one of the challenges Chiefs faced in the lead-up to the game was a lack of training time because the players were writing exams, although, he admitted, Highlands Park must have faced the same scenario. He said this meant they were not at their best.

Coach Mathebula also reserved special praise for Manqoba “Pelembe” Ozoemena for demonstrating strong character despite his young age. It was ‘Pelembe’ who missed a crucial penalty in the game, but he stepped up in the penalty shootout to convert from the spot when given a second opportunity.

“That’s the kind of mentality we need to instil in our boys,” Mathebula said. “When you make a mistake, don’t dwell on it. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. That’s how you learn and get better as a player, and players for Kaizer Chiefs requires such strength and positivity towards the game.”

Even though the Lions of the North lost, they still had their most loyal supporter, superfan Thato Chai, the father of Lindokuhle and Ntando, who both play for Highlands Park, roaring on encouragement.

Thato Chai, Highlands Park fan. Photo: Siya Pongco

Chai is an ever-present, decked out in a red Highlands Park outfit, with team flag in hand, at every single match.

Reflecting on the beautiful game, Chai said he also played football when he was younger, and he understands the importance of being supported. “I told myself I would do the same, not just for my young boys but for other kids as well, when the time comes.

“Moral support is everything in this game. Football is a psychological game. When there is someone acknowledging and cheering for you, it is to excel,” he said.

Chai also commended SuperSport Schools for providing a platform to showcase talented young footballers. “For the first time, football at development age is now more accessible on a larger scale. The kids now have confidence, and the thought of appearing on TV gives them an extra push.”

He also encouraged parents to continue showing their support for their children. It makes an amazing impact on youngsters when they see their parents providing their backing at stadiums, he concluded.

Full results: Quarterfinals

Kaizer Chiefs 1 (5) – 1 (4) Highlands Park
TS Galaxy vs Joburg City (2-0)
Mamelodi Sundowns vs Tuks (2-1)
NWU Vaal vs School of Excellence (1-0)

Siya Pongco
error: Sorry ol' chap, those shenanigans are not permissible.