A dramatic late-season surge by Zimasa FC saw them winning this year’s Khayelitsha LFA under-16 league title, on the last day of the season, at Khayelitsha Stadium on Sunday.
Coach Nzulu Sangqu’s charges had to chase table-toppers TTACC most of the season and, at some point during the campaign, it looked like they were not going to make it, as they were 10 points from the top.
The final day of the season was even more dramatic, as there was a lot to play for, especially for TTACC and Zimasa.
TTACC FC also had a good chance of claiming the title and their destiny was in their own hands going to the last round of league matches. They had to win their match against Goal Hunters, to be crowned champions. However, Hunters proved to have their own ideas and held TTACC to a 2-all draw.
Zimasa, on the other hand, were in an uncompromising mood, beating Madrid FC 4-1 to clinch the title.
Zimasa team manager Mziyanda Pawuli said their success was a result of the hard work put in by the technical team led by coach Nzulu Sangqu and the players themselves. He also described the season as a successful one for their side, as they grew with each match they played.
“We played our first ever provincial final (the Dennis Goldberg Cup) in October which was hosted by Safa Cape Town where we lost in penalties. We gained valuable experience from that tournament and, when we came back, our main aim was to win the league so that we could go back and play in the Denis Goldberg Cup next season, as only league champions can play in that tournament,” he said.
“However it was not easy as we were 10 points behind the log leaders. That meant we had to win all our games and pray that log leaders TTACC would drop points along the way. And that’s exactly what happened and we capitalised. We had to believe, and we had to do it for ourselves, the management and our fallen brother, Chuma Spalla.”
Pawuli also noted that trying to juggle the demands of playing in the league and the Denis Goldberg Cup at the same time was difficult.
“We worked hard, as our aim was to win both tournaments, or at least one of them if things don’t go according to plan. We also had to deal with players’ injuries along the way,” he said.
He said it was also important for the coaching department to show leadership, especially when it seemed that things were not going their way.
“They had to manage the players, how they react to certain situations and their state of mind. TTACC, for instance, were winning by big scores and it looked like they were running away with the title. However, our technical team didn’t panic and we told our players to keep winning, even a 1-0 win is three points in the bag, and it worked out in the end. I hope these boys realise how talented they are and they are blessed to be coached by Nzulu Sangqu. I’m happy that we did it for Chuma Spalla.”
Coach Sangqu concurred, saying the players didn’t panic and just kept their eyes on the goal.
“Credit must go to the boys, they worked very hard, and I could see the attendance in the training and how they were committed, no one wanted to miss training sessions. In terms of the league itself, we knew that TTACC will drop points at some point, it was just a matter of time,” he said.