Gearing up to take on SA’s best

Chris Hani players gather in a huddle before their regional final against Luckhoff High School.

Chris Hani High School’s under-14 soccer squad have a lot to cheer about after they were crowed Western Cape McDonald’s regional champions, in Belhar, at the weekend.

The boys from Khayelitsha will now compete at the national finals, in Pretoria, later this month.

Coach Thembalethu Gophe‘s squad secured their spot at the nationals following his side’s 4-3 victory on penalties against Stellenbosch hopefuls Luckhoff Primary, at Erica Park, on Saturday.

They will now join the Northern Cape’s Orion College and the Eastern Cape’s Charles Morgan Primary School at the national championships, at the Lucas Moripe Staduim, later this month.

Chris Hani got their campaign off to the perfect start after they beat fellow Western Cape contenders Naphakade Primary and Beaufort West Secondary 1-0 and 2-0 in their opening fixtures.

In the final, they were under pressure from the get go but their defence was solid as a rock.

Both sides could not find the back of the net with penalties having to decide the outcome.

Chris Hani was under pressure immediately missing their first penalty.

However, a save from goalkeeper Ntfika Mfhwefhue and shot against the bar was enough for them to come out victorious.

Coach Gophe said his side played well considering the pressure they played under.

“We never panicked and played smart football. We also slowed the game down and that played in our favour.

“We were not representing the school but Khayelitsha which was a great motivation for the players,” he said.

Gophe believes discipline was the key to his side’s success.

“My players never gave up and kept on believing. We can only get better from here on,” he said.

Chris Hani qualified for the WC regional champs after they beat Mitchell Plain’s Westridge High School 3-2 on penalties in the Western Province championships. This was after the two sides played to a 2-all draw.

Gophe said the WP champs was much tougher than he expected as his side won most of their games on penalties.

“In the group stages we won comfortably but when it came to the knockout stages we had to dig deeper,” said Gophe, who is expecting a tough challenge at nationals.

“We are hoping to play friendly matches before we head off. I won’t put pressure on my players because anything can happen on the day,” he said.