Raycon Ladies FC and Diepkloof Ladies FC, the finalists in the 2022 Gauteng Women’s Soccer Tournament, met in the title-decider again this year, in a clash of the titans. In a reversal of the 2022 result, Raycon Ladies FC handed Diepkloof Ladies a 1-0 defeat on Sunday to secure the silverware.
Earlier, Raycon had beaten Electrical Ladies 3-1 in the semi-finals, while Diepkloof Ladies posted a 1-0 win over Springs Home Sweepers.
Gold medal match
In the final, Diepkloof Ladies FC enjoyed the better of the first half and controlled the tempo of the game, with their star midfielder, Gontse Makhoti, nicknamed “Xavi”, dictating play with a telling contribution on attack and defence. Her tidy ball distribution and man-marking clamped down on Raycon’s attacking threat.
However, despite being the better team in the opening stanza, Diepkloof Ladies couldn’t find a way through the Raycon defence, and after the break they found themselves on the back foot.
Raycon returned to the pitch renewed and dominated all aspects of the game. Their defence, especially, gave next to nothing away to Diepkloof’s forwards, and their midfielders did a sterling job of cutting off the ball supply to the opposition’s front-runners.
The winning goal came from a set piece, with Loretah Ncube‘s free kick leaving Diepkloof’s goalkeeper with no chance.
After going behind, Diepkloof managed to create a few opportunities, but it was Raycon’s day as they avenged their loss to the same opposition last year.
Raycon coach Koketso Matsemela was delighted his side had secured the win and he could not contain his excitement and relief after the final whistle had sounded. He commended his players for the fight they showed throughout the tournament, and for winning against the team that had denied them glory in the 1st edition of the event.
“We are fortunate to be in this tournament. It’s been a tough year for us. We did not win anything, [but] this tournament will definitely motivate our girls preparing for the next season”, he said.
Coach Thabang Marou, known as “Ghana”, of Diepkloof Ladies, said: “First of all, I want to comment on the Gauteng Women’s Soccer Tournament. It’s a good initiative, of which we are privileged to be a part. The tournament organisers did an outstanding job.
“Coming into the tournament, we knew that we are the defending champions, and we knew very well that it was never going to be easy to defend the title. We are a new team. However, we tried our level best and the better team won today.
“Our run to the final was quite an uphill battle. We kept on winning by a narrow margin, most games by one goal, but we won’t take anything away from the champions today. They are a good team and they played very well, though it was a bitter pill to lose to a set-piece goal, but what can you say?
“We are also proud of Diepkloof Ladies. They showed character and that they are the defending champions.”
Praise for the organisers
Joseph Mkhonza, the renowned coach of Springs Home Sweepers, also gave the Gauteng Women’s Soccer Tournament his seal of approval.
His team was knocked out in the semi-finals by the defending champions, Diepkloof Ladies, and eventually lost the third-place playoff on penalties by 10-9 to Electrical Ladies, who finished in the same position as last year.
Mkhonza praised the tournament organisers for bringing together teams from different league streams, including the Gauteng Development League: Girls League. He also found it inspiring to see a team from Zimbabwe, Queen Lozikey, in the line-up.
Mkhonza said the Gauteng Women’s Soccer Tournament provides a unique platform, but he also expressed his concern over the common trend of giving almost all of the attention to men’s football in South Africa. He called on other tournament organisers to learn from the successful event.
He further called for corporate support of women’s football at tournament, development and school level, adding that there is exceptional talent to be found throughout South Africa. He, furthermore, urged top officials and national team coaches to get out and see the talent for themselves, and to show their support for women’s football.
Mkhonza said nurturing talent in all aspects of sports would contribute to creating a winning nation.
Mondli Dube and Mulalo Mbulaheni on behalf of the tournament organisers, said the tournament had experienced encouraging growth since its debut in 2022. Sponsors, such as the Hollywood Foundation and the Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation, had played an important role in the success of the event.
“Having 16 teams, [up by five] from the 11 teams we had the previous year, shows growth.”
Mbulaheni and Dube said they were impressed by the talent on show and would like to invite talent scouts to the 2024 event.
Dube commented: “The turnout was impressive. Spectators came in numbers and having teams like JVW showing interest and desire to win, was so inspiring to us, as well.”
Creating an opportunity for Sasol [Women’s League] teams to play regional teams helps prepare those regional sides for higher levels of competition in the future, he added.
“All in all, it was a beautiful event. We are going to back to the drawing board, and next year it’s going to be even bigger and better.”
Mbulaheni thanked Rovers Football Club for hosting the tournament, saying it went off without a hitch, and said he was encouraged by the talent and passion shown by the players.
Day Two Results
|Springs Home Sweepers
|Springs Home Sweepers
3rd Place Playoff
|Springs Home Sweepers
A passionate reader and dedicated writer, Siya possesses three degrees from Rhodes University including a Postgraduate Diploma at Rhodes University. He also played amateur cricket and soccer, both during his university years. While honing his journalism skills at Grocott’s Mail in Makhanda, he developed a profound interest in the community’s response to crime. Additionally, he covered topics such as art/culture and student politics at Rhodes University in 2022. In his spare time, Siya can be found exploring galleries, dining at restaurants, indulging in literature, taking photographs or savouring his favourite dish, spaghetti.