In the SA Combined Schools U19 semi-final penalty shootout against Cape North A at Bedfordview the KZN A goalkeeper Thandolwethu “Ollie” Zondi saved 3 spot-kicks for his province to win 3-2 on penalties.
In the KZN A vs KZN B final, at 4-4 in the penalty shootout, Ollie Zondi saved KZN B’s 5th penalty before bouncing back up to score the winning penalty himself! For KZN A to win the SA Combined Schools soccer title 5-4 on penalties.
Feature image: Ollie Zondi before his goalkeeping heroics in the heart-stopping penalty shoot on Goldstones when Maritzburg College regained the Raw Cup from DHS.
That eye-catching penalty-stopping ability, particularly in a penalty shootout, the most critical stage of a match which has gone that route, with the outcome resting on the (goal)line (if you’ll pardon the pun), plus Ollie’s goalkeeping prowess and imperious “ownership” of “his” piece of real estate, the big box, in regulation play, were key factors in the selectors’ decision to pick Ollie for the SA Combined Schools U19 team as well as naming him Goalkeeper of the Tournament.
‘Whilst others dream of scoring goals, I am that different guy, who dreams of saving them’
Ollie, the Maritzburg College first soccer team goalkeeper was also superb in the penalty shootouts that clinched the PMB High Schools Football Association second term MTN League final – and he did it again on Goldstones for the Red, Black and White to take the Raw Cup, the oldest KZN inter-school sports trophy, away from arch-rivals and Cowie Cup winners DHS, arguably the best first team outfit in the province.
So, he’s “not too shabby” hey Nige…?! So, Maritzburg College director of soccer and #RedBlackWhite first team head coach Daniel Haswell, what’s your assessment of Ollie the goalkeeper?
“My opinion of Ollie the goalkeeper? That’s easy, Jono. A lot of players say they want to play professionally and so on but what sets Ollie apart is that he focused first on training and improving. I’ve never seen a goalkeeper so dedicated to training, he trains like an absolute beast!
“And, Jono, we never made it easy for him; in fact we purposely make it tough because that is the way to test the boys – to see if they have what it takes. Their attitude to training is so important.
“Here I must credit Maritzburg College specialist goalkeeper coach Caniggia Garaba for his training regimen. Sometimes I would look at our GK’s diving at practice on the unforgiving AB Jackson field and shake my head. I got the goalkeepers gym mats and said, ‘Please guys, use these to land on!’.
“An important factor is that Ollie had Luyanda Mawela, also a fine Maritzburg College goalkeeper, constantly pushing him to perform.
“We called Ollie and Luyanda the ‘Goalkeepers’ Union’ because they always supported each other, whichever one was playing, and they would back each other when we [the first team squad and coaching staff] would banter them with comments like, ‘Oh, the goalkeepers are training in the shade again’ or hiding when we were doing conditioning testing.
“The truth of the matter is that no-one trained harder than Ollie – and his performances as well as his impressive physique are proof of that.
“Jono, I also want to add that Ollie saved an incredible 17 out of 50 penalties. It is an incredible penalty-save percentage. If a school first team’s goalkeeper – given the format of many of the competitions we play in at this level – is stopping 1 out of every 3 penalties taken, this gives that team a massive advantage.
“As mentioned, penalty shootouts are an important part of football – especially at schools level with all our cup competitions. They cannot simply be regarded as a ‘lottery’ or ‘pure luck’.
“So we looked at how we could get an advantage out of them. Ollie and (fellow keeper) Luyanda Mawela worked hard at agility and the mental aspect of it and also watching other teams, to see where and how they preferred to take penalties.”
Ok coach Dan, you’ve certainly established Ollie’s credentials as a goalkeeper and a person, so let’s hear Ollie’s story up close and personal.
“Hi Ollie, do you feel this Player of the Tournament award is recognition for the hard work you have put into your goalkeeping this year?”
“Yes, sir. I feel that a lot of hard work at training, on and off the field, plus a lot of help from my coaches and teammates has led me to winning this award.”
“Ollie, so what is it about football that attracted you to the game?
“Sir, I grew up in a family that always loved the sport. The 2010 FIFA World Cup being hosted in South Africa made me realise how big the sport of football was, and I instantly wanted to be part of it. How people from across the world came together to watch the World Cup really attracted me.”
And like the sure-footed shot-stopper he is, Ollie’s response was immediate when asked who have had the biggest influence on his soccer career so far.
“Mr Justin Tocknell was my first-ever coach; he introduced me to goalkeeping and also built my foundation in terms of establishing and setting personal goals. Mr Mba Mlotshwa, a Pelham Senior Primary School teacher and soccer coach, also made a big impression on me.
“At high school Mr Dan Haswell, our Maritzburg College first team head coach, trusted in me and my talent – even after me first playing rugby!
“Mr Haswell took me in and personally got me a goalkeeper coach, Mr Caniggia Garaba, who really started from basics and helped me up my game. Mr Haswell exposed me to a soccer-friendly environment and helped me understand many elements of the game.
“Putting all these parts together has enabled me to play for the Maritzburg College first team for 2 years and to play in 60 first team games. This has taught me that the whole team has put their trust in me to be their last man, so I should also trust each of them in their particular roles.”
Ollie is clear as to what his personal goals in football are, both in the short- and long-term
“My goal is to see myself playing for clubs that are recognised on a national level, to play for teams I grew up watching and supporting, and also to move on to represent my country if possible.”
Ollie, the Maritzburg College first team season this year, what have been the highlights and your disappointments?
“The first team this year was not only a team but a brotherhood. The respect and support the boys gave one another was simply outstanding, so it’s no coincidence that we won 3 trophies. On a personal level, I feel good that I kept 12 clean sheets and saved 17 penalties.
“A major disappointment was not being able to earn my 50th cap for the first team on Maritzburg College Reunion Day, due to unforeseen circumstances.”
Ollie is also chuffed that Maritzburg College has started awarding soccer scholarships. “This will definitely enhance the quality of football at the school.”
After attending Pelham Senior Primary School, Ollie was again sure-footed in taking the next step.
“I chose Maritzburg College due to me seeing how the boys of the school carried themselves. And the school’s name. The great academics and sports were also very influential in my decision.
“Maritzburg College as a school, I would say, is the best in the world. As I said, the academia is one of the best in the country and the sport produces some of our country’s greatest sportsmen.
So Ollie, what has football and goalkeeping taught you about yourself and about life?
“Football as a sport showed me that in order to achieve a certain goal, you need to put in loads of work, be patient, be committed and you also need the help of others to achieve it.
“Goalkeeping showed me that people trust you, and sometimes more than you trust yourself! Your team-mates and coaching staff believe in you, put their beliefs in you, so you need to believe in yourself, too, and also believe in them.”
Ollie’s favourite player is Atletico Madrid and Slovenia goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
“For me, Jan Oblak is the best goalkeeper in the world, yet at the same time he is so humble. He is so down-to-earth, but when it’s game time he lets his talent do the talking. His ability in goals really amazes me.
“Jan Oblak is from a country like mine, that doesn’t have the greatest soccer side compared to the other great footballing countries, but he didn’t let that get in the way of him playing for one of the great teams in Spain and the world.”
To see Ollie Zondi on a soccer pitch, it always struck me that it was akin to watching a great performer on stage. By his engaging persona and sheer presence, Ollie “owns” his team’s penalty area, making it crystal clear to opposition strikers that he’s the boss-man and they’d better be very aware of the statement he’s making.
So I should have known the answer as to what would he like to do or be outside of football!
“I would like to be in the entertainment industry. To be a presenter or an actor. I really love this industry.”
I think we’ve established by now that goalkeeping is Ollie’s preferred position on a soccer pitch.
“I love goalkeeping because whilst others dream of scoring goals, I am that different guy, who dreams of saving them. I feel that a keeper not only keeps his team from conceding a lot of goals, but also keeps his team’s hopes up. If your team trusts you in goals, that’s half of their worries gone and allows them to focus more on scoring.”
So how much time does Ollie put in to improving his football?
“I work whenever I get time to. Most of the time it’s at least 4 times a week. Soccer is the only sport I participate in. In the off-season I will rest more and work at most twice a week.”
Ollie, is there anything else you’d like to add?
“I really would like to add my appreciation and gratitude to my God Almighty, who I believe is at the centre of everything in my life and football. “
Ollie, thank you so much for your patience and time, it’s been an absolute pleasure getting to know you.
“Thank you too sir for showing such an interest in me and coming to watch our games when you could.”
Ok, let’s a last word from Ollie Zondi’s coach, Dan Haswell: – So Dan, does the Ollie Zondi persona change into something else off the field?
“Definitely not, Jono. Off the field, Ollie is an absolute gem as well. He is a great team unifier with the way he talks, and he is always leading the team in songs before and after games.
“Ollie’s got a great future ahead of him, either as a goalkeeper or whatever he chooses to do, because he is a fine young man with a great heart – and the type of boy that we are proud of at Maritzburg College.
The scene is set for the 8th annual MTN PMB High Schools Football Association Cup, to be held at Howick High from Friday to Sunday this weekend and one can argue with conviction that it’s anyone’s ballgame.
Having watched a number of the teams this year it is a lottery as to who emerge with the trophy.
The strength of the teams in Pietermaritzburg (PMB) and KZN midlands boys’ high school football is so evenly-matched this year.
The unpredictable nature of the outcomes this season means that it’s impossibly hard to determine with any semblance of accuracy, who the finalists will be, come the aftermath of the 3pm trophy match on the Howick High School turf on Sunday.
What is absolutely dead-certain as we draw close to Friday afternoon’s opening exchanges is that there are 20 schoolboy first teams with gold medals on their mind and nothing else.
Any of the usual big guns could win it, as they have all beaten each other over the course of the season. The tournament kicks off at 1pm on Friday, with the boys’ final scheduled for 3pm on Sunday.
Hilton College are the two-time defending champions and are looking to become the first side to win the trophy three times – 2017 winners, 2018 winners, 2019 winners.
They beat Maritzburg College in an excruciating penalty shootout in last year’s final and the boys of the RedBlackWhite will be pushing to go one better.
It has certainly been a trophy season for the Maritzburg College lads, having already picked up the PMB A League and the Primo League titles in 2019.
St Charles College – the most dangerous of sides – were one of last year’s semi-finalists.
Saints bowed out to Hilton in yet another agonising penalty shootout, penalties that were so masterfully managed by ace Hilton College keeper Costi Christodoulou, last year’s SA U17 soccer captain and Manchester City trialist.
Haythorne made up the 2018 semi-final quartet. And like the French rugby team, one never knows which Haythorne brand of football will turn up on the day – it can be inspirational stuff that feeds off the moment, or it can be rather disappointing.
Of some of the other teams, Carter are never to be trifled with in Cup football while I personally have a great deal of time for the Michaelhouse team.
Terrific strikers, a solid pair of central defenders, intelligent distributors of the ball – and the most committed of captains in goalkeeper Noah Stanger, the Men of House are, in my opinion, in with a very real chance to wrest the trophy away from their Hilton rivals.
Alex have had a rather disappointing season to date and will no doubt be thirsting to prove a point, as will first-time entrants Eastwood, who won the PMB B League this year and will want to show that they thoroughly deserve their promotion to The Big Show.
Last year was my first taste of MTN PMB FA Cup football and it was a fabulous eye-opener.
The Howick High School set-up is great and the organisation of what is an extremely time-pressured schedule by Uraisha Haswell and her team is second to none.
From humble beginnings, this tournament has become the most popular and most intensely-fought-for accolade in the Pietermaritzburg and KZN midlands region.
This year, there are a total of 36 teams participating: the 20 boys’ teams, as mentioned earlier, and 16 girls’ teams.
In the girls section, Edendale Technical College have ruled the roost of late and are two-time defending champs but they were pushed all the way in last year’s final by hosts Howick, who will be determined to lift the trophy for the first time, on home soil.
Ixopo and Carter will also expect to be in the final stages – or perhaps there could be a surprise from the likes of GHS or from the spirited Kokstad College girls.
It’s been a long wait.
Now the waiting is over.
Hosts the Maritzburg College U15C soccer team made new friends over the weekend when they met a team from the Kenosis Community Trust.
The Maritzburg College U15C’s match-up with the boys and girls of the Kenosis team produced a soccer match that brought much reward, fun and frivolity.
The Kenosis Community Trust is a foster care programme that serves the needs of orphaned and vulnerable children.
New friends were made and much common ground discovered.
Bonds of this nature extended by our KZN10 schools, which this website and social media serves is applauded.
Long may these initiatives continue across this website and social media’s chosen KZN10 schools.
As has been mentioned before by the KZN10.com website and social media offering; our common bond in sport brings the communities of our beautiful province closer together.
* Source – Maritzburg College Facebook, shared by Michael Dibben.
Featured photo: SnapsbyRambo
Soccer season has been in full flow as most KZN10 schools have played a number of inter schools fixtures.
This weekend however was a midterm break of sorts as only Michaelhouse and Hilton College competed against each other.
Results vs Michaelhouse
KZN10 also had 3 school head to St Davids Marist Inanda for their 17th annual challenge cup namely Hilton College, Clifton School and Michaelhouse.
There were mixed results over the weekend as the 1st and U15A teams competed. The stand out performance came from the Hilton College U15A who came a credible 4th out of 16 teams.
St Davids Marist Inanda Challenge Cup Results
Hilton College 1st
Hilton College U15A
|St Johns College||1||~||0|
|St Davids Marist||0||~||1|
|St Peters College||2||~||1|
|St Stithians Coollege||2||~||1|
Clifton School 1st
Clifton School U15A
|St Johns College||0||~||4|
Michaelhouse and Maritzburg College clashed in a inter schools fixture which resulted in teams playing to a pulsating 1-1 draw.
College came into the fixture on a great run of form having beaten highly fancied Kingsway of Amanzimtoti the day before. The absence of inspirational keeper, Thandolwethu Zondi, and talismanic striker, Tariq Whiteman, could slow down the visitors.
Michaelhouse started the game like a house on fire and immediately stamped their authority on proceedings. Luc Pousson being instrumental as he bossed the midfield in the opening stages as James Gush had two great scoring opportunities in the opening quarter. Shortly after College keeper, Luyanda Mawela, again saved College by blocking a Thabo Dlamini shot.
After being totally outplayed for most of the half the visitors finally strung some passes together resulting in their best chance of the match as a Monty Dorlly effort crashed in to the cross bar. In a flash the ball was moved up field for fleet-of-foot Thabo Dlamini to coolly slot the opening goal away. 1-0 to the hosts and well deserved for their dominant 1st half performace.
College needed to raise the tempo in the second half, and that they did, as they pressured the Michaelhouse midfield. A sustained period resulted in College Striker, Nhlakanipho Khubeka, being brought down in the area. Captain Cool, Lwazi Zondi, wasted no time in slotting the penalty passed Michaelhouse keeper, Noah Stanger making the scores 1-1.
It was game on as the teams entered the last quarter of the match with the action being fast and frenetic as the teams moved up and down the pitch. Both goalmouths witnessed mad scrambled clearances as the two teams searched for the winner.
The game ended in a stalemate as the ref blew his whistle on a thoroughly entertaining match. Credit to College for the way they played particularly after they were reduced to 10 men after a sending off of one of their players.
Michaelhouse next head to the St Davids challenge cup with a nicely balanced team anchored by their man at the back Noah Stanger. College can finally have a break after a busy last few weeks
Michaelhouse: 1 (Thabo Dlamini)
Maritzburg College 1 (Lwazi Zondi)
Michaelhouse: 1 Noah Stanger (c), 3 Luc Pousson, 8 Nick Crampton, 5 Michael Bradford, 6 Mugabi Lubinga, 2 James Gush, 7 Gareth Kemp, 4 Michael Ross, 13 Alex Vermeulen, 9 Thabo Dlamini (vc)
18 Matthew Craigie-Stevenson
Head coach Ryan van Wyk
College: 16 Luyanda Mawela, 2 Monty Dorlly, 12 Zusiphe Gxarisa, 3 Nhlakanipho Phenyane, 5 Nqululeko Zondo, 13 Theo Hlatswayo,8 Bayanda Gumbi, 10 Lwazi Zondi (c), 14 Chad Desplace, 7 Nhlakanipho Khubeka (vc), 11 Nqibelelo Msiya
4 Riley Naidoo
9 Billy Brooks
This weekend marks the 17th edition of the St Davids Marist Inanda Challenge cup tournament with 3 KZN10 schools flying the footballing flag. With local schools Hilton College, Michaelhouse and Clifton School sending a combined 5 teams the boys from KZN are sure to make an impact.
The Soccer bonanza boasts 16 teams from all over the country highlighting the popularity of Schoolboy Soccer.
Hilton College were the highest placed KZN team last year finishing 9th so there is ample room for the KZN schools to stamp their authourity onto the national football stage.
An added fillip this year is that Schools Sports Live will be streaming the games on the main field on Saturday and Sunday.
Be sure to subscribe and ring the bell for notifications of streaming:
Here is to great weekends Soccer action.
With 8 of the KZN10 schools participating and these weekends Primo League it looks set for a great weekend of soccer at the AB Jacksons Football field in Pietermaritzburg on the 13th and 14th July 2019.
|Group A||Group B|
|Maritzburg College||Northwood School|
|Durban High School||Westville Boys High School|
|Kearsney College||Glenwood High School|
|Saturday 13th July 2019|
|Sunday 14th July 2019|
|Plate Semi Finals|
|Cup Semi Finals|
It went down to a heart-stopping penalty shootout… and it was Maritzburg College first team goalkeeper Thandolwethu Zondi who undid the dreams of St Nicholas with 3 great saves under intense pressure as the RedBlackWhite clinched the match 3-1.
This MTN 2nd Term League U19A division semi-final ended 0-0 at full-time but the bare scoreline didn’t reflect how much action took place in each goalmouth.
Featured image: Maritzburg College first team soccer goalkeeper Thandolwethu Zondi was the semi-final matchwinner.
Tuesday afternoon’s humdinger took place at the AB Jackson soccer fields in Princess Margaret Drive, opposite Harry Gwala Stadium, home of Maritzburg United.
Diagonal neighbours across College Road/West Street, St Nicholas ended third in the league phase of the competition with Maritzburg College in second place.
An error not to be made is to look at a school like St Nicholas and compare on the usual rugby cricket etc. basis to Maritzburg College. Soccer throws conventional Maritzburg College team sports codes rivalry completely out of the window.
With the passion on the sidelines palpable, it was Maritzburg College who started the first half well, with RedBlackWhite forward Tariq Whiteman instrumental in a number of the dangerous moves.
The desire on the part of both teams to win this one was immediately evident in the hotly-contested nature of every challenge… there was no holding back, and the referee had to chat with the players from both sides more than once in the early stages.
St Nicholas were playing directly into the sun and it wasn’t an easy task for their goalkeeper to negotiate the high ball, and one suspected that the setting sun would be even harder on Maritzburg College keeper Zondi in the second half.
There was activity in both goalmouths in the first half but not quite on the scale of the second-half thrills and spills.
The St Nicholas coach was in animated conversation with his boys during the halftime break.
From his body language there was no doubt that the central message was to pepper Maritzburg College keeper Zondi with high balls after the changeover.
And so it soon was. The second of two second-half high balls into the Maritzburg College six-yard box were hugely troubling for RedBlackWhite keeper Zondi and St Nicholas managed to steer the ball towards the goalline only for a Maritzburg College defender to make a goal-saving clearance off the line!
Here’s the rest of this pulsating semi-final in real time, as Jono saw it.
It’s all St Nicholas as two goalshot possibilities come and go before Maritzburg College have a similar opportunity at the other end. Having just said that… a great goalshot from St Nicholas… Just past the post.
Consternation in the St Nicholas goalmouth shortly after. It’s end-to-end non-stop stuff!
Maritzburg College make their third substitution – this time enforced. And the new sub has a great chance from a curling cross from the right but his goalshot is parried by the St Nicholas keeper!
The St Nicholas coach is perpetual motion – in body and word – as he paces up and down like a caged lion…
A curling Tariq Whiteman free-kick into the goalmouth just evades a team-mate’s opportunity to head the ball into the St Nicholas net. At the other end a long-range St Nicholas direct free-kick curls past the wrong side of the near post.
Definitely a good spell being enjoyed by Maritzburg College in the last few minutes, but at the other end St Nicholas have a goalshot opportunity that doesn’t come off.
The protests at certain referee decisions are drawing increasing shouts of complaint from one side of the halfway line… Excellent defence from Maritzburg College as St Nicholas pile on the pressure.
Well, the best chance of the match so far… But the St Nicholas striker shoots wide of the far post with time on his side…
A direct Maritzburg College free-kick curves comfortably over the St Nicholas crossbar.
As much as there have been plenty of opportunities in both goalmouths one senses that this MTN 2nd Term League tournament’s first semi-final in the U19A division could be heading to penalties.
The referee is dishing out cards as the pressure to break the deadlock mounts. And a free-kick culminates in a St Nicholas defender clearing the ball off his goalline! Hardly a minute later, a Maritzburg College header is not far off the mark.
And the ref has had enough… A St Nicholas player gets a red card. St Nicholas down to 10 men for the rest of the match.
Aaaaaa-aaand that’s full-time!
Maritzburg College 0
St Nicholas 0
Straight to penalties after a brief break.
THE PENALTY SHOOTOUT SEQUENCE
St Nicholas first…
A brilliant save low to his left by Maritzburg College keeper Thandolwethu Zondi!
And the Maritzburg College captain and midfielder Lwazi Zondi slots his penalty coolly into the net!
The St Nicholas second penalty… it’s inch-perfect.
The Maritzburg College second penalty… Is in!!!
After 2 rounds
Maritzburg College 2
St Nicholas 1
Into the third round… And yet another superb save by the Maritzburg College keeper!
And the Maritzburg College penalty? – It’s perfect!
3 rounds gone
Maritzburg College 3
St Nicholas 1
It’s make-or-break time for St Nicholas… If they don’t score with their fourth penalty it’s all over.
And the Maritzburg College keeper Zondi makes yet another stu-uu-uuuning save!!!!
It’s all over!!!!
As the RedBlackWhite supporters cheer at full volume, goalkeeper Zondi’s team-mates rush from the halfway line to congratulate their heroic shot-stopper, thinking the game is over.
The linesman rules a keeper infringement…hazarding a guess, I think the keeper was adjudged to have advanced off his goalline towards the penalty-taker before he’d launched his goalshot…
St Nicholas get another chance… It must go in…
But the replayed St Nicholas penalty hits the post!
It’s GAME OVA-AAA!!!
Maritzburg College win the penalty shootout 3-1 and advance to the MTN 2nd Term League U19A Cup final, which takes place at the AB Jackson at 3.30pm next Tuesday, 11 June.
Well played St Nicholas… it’s a pity there couldn’t have been two winners.
Here’s Maritzburg College head coach Daniel Haswell’s thoughts on this pusating semi-final contest.
The second semi-final saw 2018 champions Haythorne, fourth in the league phase of the competition, face Carter, who ended first in the league.
And it was Haythorne who prevailed 1-0 through a B. Zondi goal in what was a typically hard-fought cup tie.
So it sets up a repeat of last year’s final, in which Haythorne beat Maritzburg College in an excruciatingly tense penalty shootout.
See you at the AB Jackson next Tuesday at 3.30pm!
* The tournament is administered by the PMB High Schools Football Association.
Hilton College’s 16-year-old first team soccer goalkeeper Costi Christodoulou is on trial with English Premiership football giants Manchester City.
Costi jetted off to the UK over the weekend and for the grade 10 boy it’s a wonderful opportunity to reach for his dream.
Sunday saw Costi watch the Manchester derby between City and United and he began his trial with Man City yesterday.
City are hosting Costi over the next fortnight in order to have a close look at this young shot-stopper.
English champions City have been following Costi’s progress since he first started for SA U17 as a15-year-old prodigy.
The 16-year-old Costi is the current SA U17 captain.
Costi has been attending Maritzburg United training sessions since grade 9 and is the youngest player to have played in the Diski Challenge.
Hilton College has done its utmost to support Costi and has granted him leave of absence to attend training in the mornings at Maritzburg United’s Harry Gwala Stadium and made allowances for this highly intelligent lad to recoup time lost in the classroom later.
Being a boarder certainly helps this process and Costi has been hitting the 90 percentile academic average in his subjects.
Prior to this one, KZN10.com had written three stores on Constandino “Costi” Christodoulou – and Jono has written another on Costi for a national magazine.
* You can find the earlier KZN10.com Costi stories on the soccer page or the Hilton College page.
KZN10.com knows how to pick ‘em.
To be honest it’s not that difficult – and certainly pretty obvious to many – just a few minutes watching Costi in action for Hilton firsts or as captain of the Amajimbos (SA U17) and you can tell he’s got the elusive “it” that sets him apart.
The KZN10 family wishes Costi everything of the best over the next two weeks.
FIVE of the 11 footballers selected for the MTN PMB FA Cup Team of the Tournament are from KZN10 schools.
In what was a hotly-contested final, the tournament was won by defending champions Hilton College, who edged Maritzburg College 4-2 in a gripping penalty shootout after the teams were locked 1-1 at the end of regulation time. This was a fiercely competitive football event in which any one of the top seven or eight teams might well have emerged title winners on another weekend.
The five players selected from the KZN10 schools that this website is all about, are goalkeeper Costi Christodoulou and midfielder Simphiwe Bhembe (both Hilton College), midfielder Kholwani Mthembu and striker Simphiwe Zondi (both Maritzburg College) and striker Luyanda Prince Mazeka (St Charles College).
Congratulations to all 11 selected – the other six players coming from three schools – Alex, Haythorne and Carter (two each). They are defenders Sinalo Ntlahla (Carter), Mxhumanisi Zulu (Alex) and Thembinkhosi Mkhize (Haythorne); midfielders Mnotho Nene (Alex) and Bryce Beyers (Haythorne), and striker Tevan Jones (Carter).
Tevan Jones, the cousin of Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana striker Ryan Moon, equalled his cousin’s PMB FA Cup record of 8 goals.
There must have been a host of players in contention for the various positions, such was the quality of individual players in this 20-team tournament.
The selection panel convenor was Wade du Plessis, the former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper who was voted by the popular Soccer Laduma publication as one of the five best Kaizer Chiefs shot-stoppers in the iconic South African football club’s long and distinguished history.
It certainly was no easy task for Wade and panel – there were 57 MTN PMB FA Cup matches spread over 53 hours on four pitches, from Friday, 24 August to Sunday, 26 August, so it took a knowledgeable, practised eye to know where to be, what to look for, and what qualities to take note of.
Looking at the five selected players mentioned above, these are my layman’s observations gathered over the three days.
* There are many other factors in assessing a player, of course – and I am sure others would add further qualities to my impressions, these are just my thoughts:
Goalkeeper Costi Christodoulou (Hilton College): Meticulous in his pre-match preparation. An imposing figure, Costi “owns” the goalmouth through sheer force of presence and personality. Costi’s unique field view affords him the opportunity to offer advice to his defenders when the opposition are on attack, and during set-pieces. His accurate boot, be it dead-ball or out-of-hand, is a prime attacking weapon, particularly given the 50-to 60-metre range he possesses. Razor-sharp reflexes honed over countless hours of training sessions, coupled with the ability to read a penalty-taker’s body language, make Costi a match-winner in a shootout. Technically, Costi is the full package, be it catch, palm, punch or keeper-positional awareness.
Midfielder Simphiwe Bhembe (Hilton College): I may be wrong, but so be it – this is what I saw from a layman’s perspective. Simphiwe is agile, technically adept in assessing which of two or three on-face-value viable passing options is the most effective in any game situation. Protects the ball, enviable work rate, a marked ability to open a game up through an astute application of his skill set. Knows how to up the tempo of the game or slow it down, appreciates his responsibilities and holds himself accountable for his actions.
Midfielder Kholwani Mthembu (the Maritzburg College captain): An outstanding tackler, exceptionally game aware, knowing where to plug the holes and make the calls when his team are drawn out of formation. Strong-minded, the kind of team-mate every player wants to have alongside him. Doesn’t shy away from physical challenges,a possessor of great stamina, durability and the foresight to identify and deliver an accurate long pass, be it a cross-field, straight or diagonal ball.
Striker Luyanda Prince Mazeka (the St Charles College captain): Be it on the ground or in the air, the opposing team’s player will know that Prince has one thing on his mind – winning possession. So, an ability to take ownership of 50-50 ball, the prowess to shoot powerfully with left and right feet, very good in the air. As the target-man, the skill to receive the ball in tidy fashion and the visual awareness to know which is the best of several lay-off-pass options. Extreme pace over the first five- to 10 metres, Luyanda can leave an opponent for dead whether swivelling left or right. An instinctive awareness of where to be, in the right place at the right time.
Striker Simphiwe Zondi (Maritzburg College): An out-and-out striker – goals are what he is about, be it with the head or the feet. A rangy build means Simphiwe is an obvious target man – strong in the air and on the ground – but it has its down sides. Seen as the opposition’s prime goal-scoring weapon, closely marked, shadowed by the opposition defender, the inevitable physical contact in goal-threatening positions meant that Simphiwe took more than his fair share of knocks. Yet he still scored 7 goals.