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GDL Weekend Preview | Round Three

By Ongama Gcwabe , in Football | Featured Football | News , at 2024-03-14 Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

GDL newcomers NWU Vaal face a tough opener against Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday.
GDL newcomers, the NWU Vaal Academy, face a tough opener against Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday.

Transitioning to higher and stronger leagues in any sport is a difficult process, and it is no different in football, which can be extremely unforgiving. The Gauteng Development League (GDL) is no exception.

Newly promoted teams quickly discover the steep rise in standards and intensity from the lower leagues to the top-flight competitions.

Regarded by many as Africa’s top development league, the GDL often dishes out harsh lessons and reality checks to newly promoted teams, and this season the NWU Vaal Academy and East Rand Athletic Club are attempting to establish themselves in the league. Neither has made the best of starts, for different reasons.

For NWU Vaal, an attempt to switch the team’s name to Mmabatho right at the start of their campaign was an untimely inconvenience. The back-and-forth discussions between the academy and SAFA Gauteng about the name switch led to coach Tebello Kheswa‘s team missing the opening two rounds. No reasons were forthcoming from SAFA Gauteng for NWU Vaal’s curious absence.

The matter has forced Kheswa and his players to wait a little longer to get onto the pitch, and for the fans, it has been a long wait to watch the highly regarded team from the Vaal. Now, it appears as if they will retain the NWU Vaal name and they will be in action on Saturday.

Remember, this is the same side that beat Mamelodi Sundowns in the GDL Youth Cup last year, on their way to the final of the same competition, where they fell short against coach David Mathebula‘s Kaizer Chiefs.

The delay to the start of NWU Vaal’s campaign could give Sundowns an edge over the league’s newbies, who might carry some rustiness into the contest, and who will need to build up their match fitness.

The state of the academy team will be revealed at Clapham High, where the four fixtures are set to get underway from 09:00 on Saturday, when the under-13s run out, through to the under-19s, at 14:00.

For fellow newcomers, the East Rand Athletic Club, life at the top has been about learning valuable lessons, even after they opened their league season with a win over Wits Junior.

Last weekend, they were involved in four tight clashes with Tuks, who won the u19 and u17 matches by identical 2-1 margins, while the u15 tie ended 1-1, and the u13s shared a 2-2 draw.

Although East Rand Athletic Club suffered a couple of losses, they were very competitive.

On Saturday, they face a red-hot TS Galaxy who recorded a couple of big victories over Wits Junior last week, with the u19s winning 5-1 and the u13s powering their way to a 6-0 win. The U15 and u17 games ended in draws.

In other fixtures, on Saturday, Highlands Park host the School of Excellence at Balfour Park, at Marks Park, Wits Junior will be keen to bounce back when they face Sevens Academy, while Joburg City is set to host Rosina Sedibane at the Greek Sporting Club.

Remember Elite Soccer Academy (RESA) will travel to the Jomo Cosmos 1st Training Ground to lock horns with Jomo Cosmos.

Kaizer Chiefs host Randburg AFC at the Kaizer Chiefs Village, and Panorama visits Huntersfield for a date with Kathorus Hyper.

To close off the weekend, the only fixture to be played on Sunday will also be broadcast live on DStv Channel 216, with the Pretoria-based teams, Tuks and SuperSport United, doing battle at the University of Pretoria Sports Campus.

All the other fixtures will be broadcast live SuperSport Schools.

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