Fish Hoek-based Ubuntu Academy secured their spot in the under-18 Coke Cup semi-finals with a comfortable 5-2 victory against the Philippi-based Mfolozi FC, in a match played in rainy weather and extreme winds, at the Dunoon sports complex on the West Coast, near Milnerton.
In only their second year in this prestigious competition, Ubuntu’s young side made their intentions clear, executing well-rehearsed set pieces with pinpoint accuracy.
Coach Moritz Kossman’s side will look to go one better than last year’s 2-1 semi-final defeat against Cape Town City, when they meet an equally impressive Woodlands United in the next round of the competition.
Last year’s Engen Knockout Challenge winners were finalists at Engen national championships, mid-section at this year’s Bayhill Premier Cup and semi-finalists in this year’s Knockout Challenge; they certainly have the chops to go all the way.
Although no strangers to big occasions, Kossman’s charges will have their work cut out against the Woody Boys. The Mitchell’s Plain side did well to contain a motivated Valhalla Park 3-2 in the other under-18 quarter-final clash played at the weekend.
“We’re excited to be in the semi-final again, hoping to go a little bit further this time,” said Kossman, the academy’s technical director of the senior phase.
“A lot of them played Coke last year, as under-16, so they know what to expect, they’ve played at various facilities and I think we have a strong team structure, so they also know what kind of football we want to play,” he said.
Kossman’s side certainly lived up to expectations at the weekend, leading 2-0 at half time. “The first half was very difficult, considering the weather conditions on Sunday,” he said.
“We were playing with the wind behind our back in the first half which obviously meant that most of the game was played in the opponents’ half. We created a lot of chances, I think 13 shots in total in the first half. We scored two goals before the break, both times following up on the goalkeeper spilling the ball,” he said.
Three goals in the second half, courtesy of a header by Prince Amponsah, Broderick Fredericks’s strike and Lebohang Pere’s slick penalty, sealed the deal for Kossman’s kids.
Ubuntu executive director, Casey Prince, also weighed in on the under-18s performance at the weekend, echoing his colleague’s sentiments that the most challenging part of the game was dealing with the extreme winds.
“We were excited to play the game in Dunoon as we were confident those would be the best fields we had been scheduled on during the Coke Cup. We were right. That allowed us to play more of our brand of football.
“With the conditions being what they were with heavy winds you have to play the two halves differently. Our plan in the second half was to build into their half with sustained bouts of possession so that we could play the game in less dangerous areas.
“Early in the second half, Xavier(Jodamus) was fouled in the box and Lebohang buried the penalty. We continued to pile on the pressure and the final two goals were finished by our opponents.”
Although happy with the result, Prince remains cautiously optimistic going into the next round.
“We are really excited to be one of the final four teams standing in a tournament that started with 256+ teams. We’ve done that with a team combining multiple age groups that don’t train together, so we’ve been able to improve every match,” he said.