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“We have a lot to prove,” says Sibiya ahead of Currie Cup

By Avuyile Sawula , in Water Sports | Featured Water Sports | News , at 2024-03-13 Tags: , , , ,

Bishops' coach Jabulani Sibiya takes a swim with the Western Province u19A team after leading them to the Inter-Provincial title in Gqeberha in December 2023.
Bishops’ coach Jabulani Sibiya takes a swim with the Western Province u19A team after leading them to the Inter-Provincial title in Gqeberha in December 2023.

The Western Province u18 boys’ water polo team will enter this year’s National Junior Water Polo Championship in East London with the “favourites” tag, but fully aware that a stern task lies ahead of them.

The side, coached by the energetic Jabulani Sibiya, arrives in the coastal city seeking more silverware after claiming top honours in last year’s Schools Water Polo South Africa Inter-Provincial Tournament in Gqeberha.

They defeated a gritty Central Gauteng side 8-7 on penalties in that final after regulation time had finished level at 8-8.

The Junior Nationals, known as the Currie Cup, will, no doubt, require the title contenders to dig deep throughout the three days of competition.

It’s not only silverware on the line but also places in the national team for this year’s World Aquatics Men’s u18 Water Polo Championships, which take place in Argentina from 2-8 July.

Sibiya guides a star-studded team after a very competitive first half of the season for the Western Cape schools.

The 13-player squad includes, among others, players from Bishops, SACS and Rondebosch Boys – all schools lifted titles in the first half of the season.

SACS claimed the SAC Shield in Makhanda, Bishops took gold in the SACS Nite Series and Mazinter Cup, and Rondebosch pulled off a shock by claiming the KES Water Polo Tournament title.

There’s no doubt that Sibiya has a group of confident players in his arsenal, and in an exclusive interview with SuperSport Schools he revealed how difficult it was picking the side, the importance of experience in the team, and how they will aim to deal with pressure situations at the Currie Cup.

“It’s been one of the most competitive seasons in the Western Cape, while I have been involved with the first teams,” he said, “just in the sense that we have seen SACS win the SAC Shield, Rondebosch win KES, and Bishops win the Nite Series and the local league.

“It’s quite a competitive unit of schools. It has been exciting because it’s kept us all honest on our results. With that said, I’m super proud to see Province flourish in the age group, and I’m proud to be a part of the set-up.”

When asked about the challenges he and the selectors faced when picking a team for the Currie Cup, Sibiya had the following to say: “The selection was quite a difficult one, just because of the variety of players available in the Western Cape.

“I think some positions were easier to select than others, but it’s always difficult when you have the top four teams in the country in the province. You have to ask yourself a lot of questions but, for me, it always came down to what it was going to look like for the team – just seeing that we’ve got a nice balance and mix of players that offer us different combinations that we can play, and I think the players we have chosen are the right ones.”

Salahuddin Khan who represented Paul Roos during the season will also wear the blue and white of Western Province in the Currie Cup. Picture credits: Team PhotoSA
Salahuddin Khan who represented Paul Roos during the season will also wear the blue and white hoops of Western Province in the Currie Cup. Photo: Team PhotoSA

The side also has a handful of players who were part of that IPT-winning side in Gqeberha last year.

Shot-stopper Jordan De Sousa starred in the cage for Province, and he returns to the side along with Adam October, Arkin Marais, Conor Melling-Williams and Nicholas Fall.

Sibiya says he will be banking on the chemistry and experience within the team.

“We have quite a few players that played in the IPT side. There’s quite a lot of chemistry between the players, and confidence from playing that final last year, and winning it.

“The experience is quite important for me because it always helps in different forms.

“I also think it’s important to have the new players, who add a different sort of play and contribute to how we can show up as a side.”

Whether they like it or not, Province will be the favourites to claim the title, particularly because of the quality they possess up front.

Bishops shot stopper, Jordan De Sousa was influential during Western Province's IPT run in 2023. He returns to the side for this year's Currie Cup in East London. Picture credits: MBL Photography (Milan Boolsen-Lotz)
Bishops shot-stopper, Jordan De Sousa was influential during Western Province’s IPT run in 2023. He returns to the side for this year’s Currie Cup in East London. Photo: MBL Photography (Milan Boolsen-Lotz)

Coach Jabz says the term “favourites” doesn’t put much pressure on his charges but instead motivates the side to prove exactly what they can deliver in the pool.

“I think it’s always good to be considered as contenders for a national tournament. I think it speaks to the talent that’s in the group,” said Sibiya.

“I think, naturally, that could be seen as adding pressure, but we’ve got a team that has experience of playing at this high level. They are confident and they know that even if we are dubbed as favourites, we still have to go out there and play the game.

“I don’t think it adds any pressure, but I think it adds a little bit of responsibility that we be consistently humble, work hard, and I think it’s all in our attitude and approach to the game.

“Although we can be considered as favourites, we still have a lot of work to do, a lot to prove, and we’re just excited to get another opportunity to be playing at a high level,” he concluded.

Western Province Team

Adam October, Arkin Marais, Conor Melling-Williams, Jandro Rojo-Ross, Jordan De Sousa, Matthew De Villiers, Nicholas Fall, Pierre Du Plessis, Ross Stewart, Thomas Truter, Salahuddin Khan, Sebastian Kastern, Zack Cicero.

Non-travelling reserves:
Blake Brown, Bryn Parry, Luke Burger, Mac Lecuona, Max Hart, Nicholas Ward, William Jack Robinson.

Fixtures

Thursday, 14 March 2024

07:00 – Western Province vs Northern Tigers; 08:00 – Central Gauteng vs Nelson Mandela Bay; 09:00 – KwaZulu-Natal vs Buffalo City; 11:00 – Nelson Mandela Bay vs Western Province; 12:00 – Buffalo City vs Northern Tigers; 13:00 – KwaZulu-Natal vs Central Gauteng; 15:00 –Western Province vs Buffalo City; 16:00 – Nelson Mandela Bay vs KwaZulu-Natal; 17:00 – Central Gauteng vs Northern Tigers.

Friday, 15 March 2024

07:00 – KwaZulu-Natal vs Western Province; 08:00 – Central Gauteng vs Buffalo City; 09:00 – Northern Tigers vs Nelson Mandela Bay; 12:00 – Western Province vs Central Gauteng; 13:00 – Northern Tigers vs KwaZulu-Natal; 14:00 – Buffalo City vs Nelson Mandela Bay; 16:00 – Semi-final 1; 17:00 – Semi-final 2.

Saturday, 16 March 2024

09:00 – 3rd/4th play-off; 11:00 – FINAL.

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