Living the dream

MZOXOLO BUDAZA

The Langa side played an effective brand of football throughout the tournament and, with their 3-0 quarter-final and semi-final victories over Lansdowne FC and Khayelitsha’s Mobz Academy, the Langa side sent a clear message that they were there to win it.

PPG qualified for this tournament after doing well in the play-offs, which took place in Wynberg last month. And, they did that in spectacular fashion, beating KLM Football Factory and Real Tigers, 7-0 and 5-0 respectively.

However, they came up against an equally impressive KTC side, from Lower Crossroads, in the final of the tournament proper. All Stars found the play-offs a little tough compared to their Langa opponents. They needed a 4-2 penalty shootout victory, after it was goalless at full time, to go past Elite XV Sports Club in their first qualifying match. They were, however, more convincing in their second match, beating Anandin FC 4-0 to book their spot in the tournament proper.

The Nyanga LFA-based side proved to be hard to crack at the back, having not conceded any goals going to the final. However, they also lacked firepower going forward as they won knockout matches against Zimas and the SAFA Invitational side, on penalties.

In the final, the sides proved to be evenly matched and as anticipated, KTC defensive stood their ground as the PPG front-runners slowing began to have a go at them. Both sides fought hard in an attempt to win the match in regulation time but it was not going to be as the final score was 0-0. The match had to be settled on penalties, with PPG winning 6-5.

PPG coach Malunga Siyaka said his side had the right approach in the play-offs but started to suffer from “stage fright” in the tournament proper, making mistakes early on.

“We were not playing our normal game and the guys were shaking.

“The way we started the competition was not good at all but, fortunately, we started getting into the groove as the tournament progressed and things got better from there,” said Siyaka.

“Our performance was good enough to see us qualifying for the knock-out stages and, before our quarter final match against Lansdowne, we sat down with the players and discussed our performance in the group stages and the ways in which we would improve on that. After that, they boys proved to be in a better space and came back strongly to beat Lansdowne, as we marched to the final,” he said.

Siyaka admitted the match against All Stars in the final proved to be their toughest in the competition, as their opponents showed a lot of discipline especially at the back. He said his players were, at this stage of the competition, starting to show signs of being tired.

“Despite that”, he said, “he were able to minimise out mistakes and try take the chances that came under way. In the end, we just couldn’t break their defence. I have to say I was impressed with the way the boys presented themselves. They treated their opponents and officials with utmost respect and that is what we want to see from these boys,”

Siyaka said the victory was good for the club, especially considering that it has been in existence for only five years. “We are now looking forward to qualifying for, and doing well in, the under-17 Knockout Challenge. Last year we bowed out in the play-off stages and the plan is to go all the way this time around,” he said.

His counter-part from KTC Nqaba Qamata said his side tried their best but, in the end it was just not good enough.

“We struggled up front as we didn’t have out-and-out strikers. We had to rely on our wingers. However, our backline did the job for us and they are the reason why we didn’t concede a single goal in this competition. It’s just that we couldn’t score goals on the other side,” he said.

“PPG were favourites and it was always going to be difficult for us against a well organised side like that. And, yes, their did come at us but we made sure they didn’t get the breakthrough they needed. We might have not bee able to win the tournament but, at least, we did show that there’s talent in KTC. We will continue doing that,” he said.