For the second successive year, Abatshana FC’s journey in the Safa Cape Town Coke Cup competition ended in the last round of 32, this time after losing to 6-0 to Grassy Park’s Milano United in Bonteheuwel, at the weekend.
The Crossroads-base side’s journey in this competition may have been over but coach Loyiso Mpondo said his side was getting closer to reaching their goal of fielding a strong team for the Metropolitan under-19 Premier Cup play-offs set to take place later this year.
He said they have spent the last two years grooming this group of players for that tournament, and taking part in the Coke Cup was part of the process.
Having said that, however, Mpondo was quick to note that they didn’t go to the Coke Cup just to add numbers, they were there to compete which, he said, they did.
This was the side’s third time in the competition having bowed out in the first round in 2014 before going all the way to the last 32 in 2015 and this year respectively.
The side’s journey to the weekend’s round of matches started earlier this year when they were bye for the last round of 128 matches.
They were called on to action two weeks later and the players responded well, beating Bayhill United 4-3 on penalties to set a date with Milano United.
Abatshana found Milano in an uncompromising mood as they were beaten 6-0.
“All I can say is that football at this level is improving each year and you, as a team, you need to keep up by improving your game too,” Mpondo said.
“However, I am not going to be too harsh on my players, we lost to a good team which is on form right now.
“The important thing is that we learnt valuable lessons from that game and the tournament as the whole,” he said.
Mpondo said some of the lessons they have learnt include the importance of teamwork and the implementation and execution of tactics.
“You just have to put individual football aside and concentrate on the dynamics of working as a unit. Once the players gel as a unit, results tend to come naturally.
“Tactically, gone are the days where you just tell the players to go there and play. Positioning, for instance, is important. They need to know where they are on the field and how far the nearest opponent is,” said Mpondo.
Looking ahead, Mpondo said they will continue working hard towards realising their goals of competing, and doing well, in next year’s under-19 premier cup.
“These players have been together for the past three years now, they know each other very well. We will now work on establishing a winning culture, especially when it comes to big tournaments,” said Mpondo.
Saturday’s victory means that Milano have now scored 10 goals and keeping a clean sheet in two consecutive Coke Cup matches. They were equally rampant in the last round of 64, beating Cape District side Salt River Blackpool 4-0 to set a date with Abatshana. And, the message is loud and clear, any team that comes up against them need to be on top of their game.
* Meanwhile, defending champions Masidlale Academy from Nyanga and last year’s losing finalists Sporting United from Bonteheuwel are also through to the last 16 after beating KTW Black Stars 2-0 and Mighty Bucs 6-0 respectively.
Joining them in the next round are Philippi’s Seven Attackers FC, Langa’s Don’t Mess With Texas, Mandela Park’s Achievers FC and Mighty Bucs, Khayelitsha’s KTW Black Stars, Mfuleni’s X1 Swallows; Glendene United, Old Mutual Academy, Vasco da Gama, Atlantic Nacional, Hellenic, Blue Downs Spurs, Everton United, Cedar United, Bellville United, Eastern Rovers, Junior Pirates, Liverpool Portlands and Masithandane FC.
* In senior action, Langa’s Citizens FC beat New Crossroads’ Huslas 2-1, Beacon Spurs beat Eleven Attackers 3-1, Stephanian Ottery beat Central AFC 2-1 in a senior Coke Cup encounter in Bonteheuwel, Glendene beat Ashford Athletic 2-1 while Spenston lost 4-2 against Melchester Rovers and CT Military were beaten 2-0 by FCG Hotspurs.