Metropolitan Premier Cup - Tournament News
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Sundowns are Bayhill ChampsPosted on Monday, 13th April 2009
by Trevor Kramer
Mamelodi Sundowns defeated Moroka Swallows 1-0 at Erica Park in Belhar, Cape Town on Monday afternoon to win the Metropolitan Premier Cup.
A second-half penalty by Doctor Mampuru settled the tie after Sipho Twala upended Lucky Nguzane in the box.
The subdued match was fairly typical for a final as each team probed the other, trying to avoid making any mistakes.
Sekgoto Lerato saw his well-hit shot expertly tipped over the cross-bar by Swallows stand-in keeper Themba Msiza, as injured first choice Sage Lottering watched from the touchline.
At the other end Sandile Ngidi watched his near post shot easily saved as the half ended 0-0.
Downs' best chance of the second period came from a free-kick from the right-hand side of the pitch that was eventually cleared after Msiza had spilled the original effort.
Sibusiso Kumalo then had the crowd gasping as his long-range shot narrowly missed the target.
But it wasn't to be for Swallows as Mampuru made no mistake from the spot to send the many Brazilians fans into a frenzy.
Dan 'Dans' Malesela's side fully deserved their win however, after impressing throughout the tournament; this despite continuous accusations labelled against them as age cheats, as well as Moroka Swallows scoring a free pass to the final after German side Armenia Bielefeld forfeited their semi-final tie.
A number of Downs players towered above other smaller teams, causing many to question the Pretoria-based side's players' ages, while Bielefeld's flight's home on Tuesday the 14th of April was cancelled because a lack of demand.
The Bundesliga club then decided to travel on Monday afternoon instead of the next available flight. This reportedly meant that the boys would miss school - something they were apparently not willing to do.
Football365.co.za spoke to Malesela after their determined win.
He said: "I am very happy. Very happy for the boys because they had to contend with a lot of abuse; people claiming we used old players."
"We also suffered from racist abuse with people saying, 'these ******* are bringing old players. They are killing our boys. They deserved this victory, I am very proud of them."
Speaking after Sundowns' 2-0 semi-final win over Wits, Malesela told Football365.co.za: "We investigate the ages. We don't turn a blind eye as we can't allow ourselves to be victims of this."
"People are surprised that my boys can play so well. No wonder they think they are old. It is through thorough training that we perform to this level."
"Before people were saying my boys were too small and now they are too big? But they don't realise that this is their last year at this age group, they don't qualify for next year's competition."
"People can complain, so what. They can't accept when they are beaten. They are complaining about things they don't know about."
Swallows assistant coach Peter Tressel was disappointed that it was a penalty that settled the tie.
He said: "It was one of those things. We contained them very well and made one silly mistake, but we played very well."
Asked for his opinion on the age debate, Mr. Tressel continued: "I am not concerned; we play against bigger boys, so we don't worry about that."
Swallows were the fresher side having not had to play a semi final in the morning but the under-19 coach felt that it actually hampered their preparations: "We would have benefited to have played the first game as we had prepared ourselves for it.
"But for sure we will be coming back next year. My boys did well. I told them to keep up the good work and keep playing beautiful football. I am sure some will be in the first team soon and playing for Bafana."
One of many Brazilians' players that stood out was Thabo Mselwa, who was the best player on the pitch in the final before being substituted. The left wing-back, with number six peroxided on his head had to be replaced after a long term injury got the better of him.
Moments before collecting his winners’ medal he told Football365.co.za: "I enjoyed the tournament very much. It was brilliant. We had what it takes; to win this game. We were really fit and ready."
The former School of Excellence player, who picked up the ankle injury a month ago playing against FC AK revealed it was the togetherness of the squad that helped them lift the coveted trophy.
"We had good morale. We are very united and listen to each other, each and every one of us. Our team has a very good spirit."
With six goals and many people's pick for Player of the Tournament, eventually losing out to Wits' Brandon Brakhuizen, Lucky Nguzane told Football365.co.za: "I am happy. This is the first time I am winning a gold medal in a tournament like this. We were strong and deserved to win. I must thank the fans and my team-mates."
In the day's other games, Santos beat Hanover Park 1-0 to take the Mid Section Final, while Platinum Stars defeated Baltic Rangers 4-2 in the Plate Final.
The curtain raiser to the Metropolitan Premier Cup Final was between Western Cape 2010 Ambassadors and Battswood Legends, which ended 0-0.
The award for Top Goal Scorer was shared between Lyle Peters from Wits and Sello Kakudi from Hanover Park, with seven goals each.
The Team of the Tournament went to Bidvest Wits. City Lovers were rewarded as the Most Promising Amateur Team, while Goalkeeper of the Tournament went to Moroka Swallows keeper Sage Lottering, despite missing out on the final through injury.
Other awards included the first hat-trick of the tournament, which went to Kaylen Mentoor of Ajax Cape Town; the quickest goal, scored by Xuki Siyanda of Sundowns, after two minutes. The most promising amateur goalkeeper was Sonwabo Mayekiso of City Lovers and the most promising amataur outfield player was Heath Hellenberg of Avendale.
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