Football fans, players and officials braved the weekend’s blazing hot temperatures for the last round of qualifiers of this year’s under-19 Bayhill Premier Cup, held in Mitchell’s Plain.
Fish Hoek-based Ubuntu Academy stands a good chance of qualifying for this year’s tournament, as they are second in Group B with five points, after recording a win and a scoring draw in their two matches, at the weekend. The Far South outfit trail log leaders, Gugulethu’s JL Zwane, by one point.
However, there is still a lot of work to be done by the two sides as they still have to play each other, on Sunday February 16.
After that, Ubuntu will lock horns with Ulana Academy, who are also on five points. Ubuntu are ahead of Ulana due to goal difference.
There was a lot at stake at the weekend, as 32 teams, divided into seven groups, battled it out for a spot in the finals, which will take place in Belhar over the Easter weekend. Among those who had already secured their spot at Erica Park are six-time champions Ajax Cape Town
Unlike in the past, where they had an automatic qualification to the tournament due to their previous PSL status, the class of 2020 had to do battle in the dusty and sandy pitches to earn their spot.
Slotted in Group B alongside Atlantic Nacional, Citizens FC and Ikapa Sporting, the Parow-based side, who were back-to-back winners in 2013 and 2014, didn’t really have problems.
They topped the group with seven points after winning two and drawing one of their three matches.
They kicked off their campaign on Saturday morning. And, on their way was Milnerton’s Atlantic Nacional.
The young Urban Warriors didn’t really have issues negotiating their way past Nacional, recording a 3-1 win.
They were back on the field again on Sunday morning to take on Langa’s Citizen FC. And, unlike their match against Nacional, the Citizens gave Ajax a serious run for their money. The results bear testimony to this as Ajax could only record a 1-0 victory.
Just when many thought the Citizen FC match was Ajax’s toughest, their next opponents, an equally talented Ikapa Sporting, had other ideas.
The Mitchell’s Plain side was a difficult nut to crack. In fact, they matched their opponents in all departments.
The sides, in the end, had to share the spoils as the match ended in a goalless draw. That result saw both qualifying for the tournament proper.
Ikapa finished second in the group standings with four points.
In their road to the finals, the side recorded a 1-0 win against Citizen and goalless draws against Nacional and Ajax.
Manenberg’s D&G Orient FC are among the sides that qualified for this year’s spectacle, after finishing on top of Group E with six points from three matches.
The group was one of the trickiest as it also had Nyanga’s Everton FC, Khayelitsha’s Rebels FC and Maties.
The side had an ideal start to the campaign, beating Everton 1-0 on Saturday. They were not done yet as they came back on Sunday to beat Maties 2-1.