The 28th edition of the Metropolitan under-19 Premier Cup kicked off at Erica Park, Belhar, yesterday, with the first five matches of the tournament promising to produce fireworks.
Over the next six days, defending champions Glendene, from Lansdowne, will have their work cut out as they attempt to stop the other 31 teams – Harmony Sports Academy, Southampton FC, Juventus (Beaufort West), Bayhill United, Jomo Cosmos, Hellenic, Mitchell’s Plain Clinic of Excellence Football Academy, Supersport United FC, Amazulu, Cape United FC, Greenwood Athletic, Bidvest Wits, Chippa United, Atlantic Nacional, Mighty United, Ajax Cape Town, Shumba Academy, Riverside FC, Milano United, University of Pretoria, Bloemfontein Celtic, Avendale Athletico, IKapa Sporting, Swansea City, Glenwegians, Stephanian Ottery, PPG Langa, Mamelodi Sundowns, Zesco United, Old Mutual Academy and Stellenbosch University – from taking away the title they won when they beat JL Zwane in last year’s final. Glendene’s defence of their title kicks off today when they take on Beaufort West’s Juventus FC in a Group A opening encounter. And, coach Mangaliso “Shakes” Ntombana said they have left no stone unturned in their preparations, and the players are ready to defend their title.
“We have played a number of friendly matches, trying out different combinations and the players are responding well. We have a lot of young players in this squad and they have shown a hunger to do well for the team,” he said.
Ntombana said they were also aware that they will be the team to beat, come tournament time. As a result of this, he said, they didn’t mind whoever they were drawn against as all the teams would be motivated to beat the champions. “We just need to stick to our game plan and be as disciplined as possible in all departments. So far the players have responded well and are looking sharp,” he said.
Roger Clayton, the tournament’s media liaison officer, agreed, saying it was also good to see teams like Stephanian Ottery back in the tournament after many years. “We also have newcomers in the likes of Mighty United and Cape United making debuts. I wish them all the best,” he said.