Defending champions, Gauteng proved too strong for their KwaZulu Natal counterparts whom they outplayed 2-0 to win their fifth consecutive SAFA Regional Women’s U19 championship title to close a week of intriguing soccer.
The five-day tournament had lots of thrills and soccer lovers were treated to some exciting football at Loubser Park in this serene city of Kroonstad in the Free State.
The tournament which kicked off on Women’s Day, produced a remarkable 54 goals and proved women football was on the rise.
The final started like a house on fire as both Gauteng and KZN tried to outsmart each other and looking to dictate terms earlier on.
The coastal KZN side were methodical in their build-up, and were eager to dethrone Gauteng, winners of the four previous tournament titles.
But the defending champions proved too good and won the crucial midfield battle. Lorraine Makhoali caught the KZN goalkeeper off guard in the 16th minute to give Gauteng the deserved lead.
Thereafter, it was a war of attrition as both sides created good chances, fluffed by both set of strikers.
KZN’s Yvonne Miya’s could have equalised midway through the first half, but she watched in disbelief as her shot went narrowly wide.
Moments later, they had a good opportunity to draw level when they were awarded a penalty, but Jabulile Mthombeni’s spot kick went wide, much to the disbelief of the crowd – most of who were rooting for the coastal underdogs.
After the break, the two sides started from where they left off in the first half, the KZN side looking the more threatening outfit. But against the run of play, they conceded the killer second goal that effectively gave Gauteng their fifth title.
Gauteng coach, Gae Lephalo who walked away with Coach of the Tournament award said she was elated for the defending champions to win yet another title. “The girls were amazing out there.”
“They played according to plan and I think in general we deserved the title yet again,” said coach Lephalo. “On a personal note, I don’t think I’ll sleep tonight after winning the coach of the tournament award. It will take some time to sink but I am so elated to win the individual award and to have retained the championship,” said Lephalo.
Earlier in the day, the third place play-off turned out to be a one-sided affair, as Western Cape sealed a 5-1 resounding victory over a lethargic Mpumalanga side to win the bronze medal.
Western Cape, who came into the third place play-offs on the back of a 1-0 loss to KwaZulu-Natal in the semi-finals on Tuesday, looked the better side throughout the encounter.
Western Cape opened their account when pint-sized striker Kim Hiss lashed home a good goal in the 14th minute, and then doubled the scoreline moments later with another solo effort.
Hiss completed her memorable hat-trick as the Western Cape side romped to a 3-0 lead going to the break.
Nonzwakazi Mpehle added the fourth goal as the Cape side threatened to run riot on a sun-drenched Tuesday morning.
Minutes later, Mpehle weaved her way past the Mpumalanga defence to score her brace and make it 5-0 for the coastal province team.
Mpumalanga didn’t lose hope and Sakhile Mkhatshwa scored Mpumalanga’s consolation goal in the closing minutes of the game.
2013 SAFA Regional Women’s league U19 Championship 2013 Results at Loubscher Park in Kroonstad, Free State: (Match / Time / Host / Visitor) Day 1 – Friday 9 August 2013: 1. North West 1-2 Gauteng 2. Mpumalanga 2-1 Eastern Cape 3. Western Cape 2-0 Free State Day 2 – Saturday 10 August 2013: Click to read the Day 2 wrap on gsport 4. Eastern Cape 8-2 Northern Cape 5. Free State 1-5 KwaZulu-Natal 6. Gauteng 6-0 Limpopo Day 3 – Sunday 11 August 2013: Click to read the Day 3 wrap on gsport 7. 12:00 KwaZulu-Natal 0-0 Western Cape 8. 13:45 Limpopo 0-10 North West 9. 15:30 Northern Cape 1-3 Mpumalanga Semi-Finals Day 4 – Monday 12 August 2013: 10. 12:00: Mpumalanga 0-7 Gauteng 11. 13:45: KwaZulu-Natal 1-0 Western Cape Finals Day 5 – Tuesday 13 August 2013: 3rd/4th Place Play-offs – 10:00: Mpumalanga 1-5 Western Cape Final – 11:45: Gauteng 2-0 KwaZulu-Natal
(With editing by gsport)