With the two legged under-19 Premier Cup play-offs done and dusted, it was down to the final round of qualifiers, at the Bayhill Legacy Fields, at Rocklands High School, at the weekend.
The final 28 teams were split into four groups of seven with the top two advancing to the tournament proper, at Erica Park, in Belhar, over the Easter weekend.
Among those teams that qualified were Fish Hoek AFC who last qualified for the under-19 Premier Cup in 1994 under former coach Paul Booth.
Fish Hoek started their play-off campaign against Cape Town Tygerberg Football Association(CTTFA) rivals Hanover Park FC, who they beat 1-0.
They then played to a goalless draw against Atlantic Nacional. In their final game they beat 2015 Premier Cup finalists JL Zwane 1-0 to top their group and progress to the tournament proper, in April. A goal from defender Luke Fleurs who scored off a corner was the difference between the two sides.
Junior chairman Michael Jenkins said his players did well throughout the playoffs especially the final-round, where it mattered most.
“Hanover Park and Atlantic Nacional are both physical, hard-working and direct teams, who make it difficult to settle into games and play attractive football.
“Both teams look to play long balls into the box, and have players sprinting forward in numbers to try to force a mistake and create a chance.
“However, our defence was strong and accurate when the opponents did manage to get into attacking areas, and our midfielders worked hard.
“It was a strong finish to the weekend, and the whole team put in a very courageous performance against JL Zwane,” he said.
Jenkins said qualifying for the biggest junior competition in the country means a lot to the club as they have not played in the competition for more than two decades.
“People outside of Cape Town, or those outside of the footballing community probably don’t understand how big a deal the Premier Cup is – particularly in the minds of aspiring young players.
“I could see some of our players getting caught up in the excitement and how happy their families where when we qualified,” he said.
Jenkins said they won’t mind being drawn against the big name clubs because it would be a test of character for his players.
“We have an excellent coaching team in Casey Prince and Jean-Pierre Farrugia, and the team will be well prepared.
“We’ll be aiming to play the very best football we’re capable of, go as far as that takes us, and enjoy the entire process.
“Most of the boys will be eligible for at least another year – many for two and even three more years,” he said.
Chairman of the club Rob Silber said he is proud to see his players doing so well at the play-offs as most of the players have grown up together within the club since the ages of 12 and 13.
“It’s also a great credit to the many coaches and other members of the Fish Hoek family who have been involved throughout the years. It’s certainly an exciting time in the 87-year history of the club,” he said.