Uthongathi of KwaZulu-Natal have been crowned the 2017 ABC Motsepe League National Play Off Champions after beating Super Eagles of Free State by 1-0 in a fast-paced final held at Buffalo City Stadium in East London.
The clash took place on Sunday, 11 June 2017.
Among those attending the exciting fixture, was Patrice Motsepe and his wife, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe who are both from the Motsepe Foundation, SAFA President Dr Danny Jordaan, SAFA NEC Members, SAFA CEO Dennis Mumble and SAFA Technical Director, Neil Tovey.
Both teams came into the match in high spirits as they had gained promotion to the National First Division, but on offer was the R1 Million winners prize.
Siyabonga Vilane put Uthongathi in the lead in the 26th after he connected well with a cross, and his header beat Tshepo Ramaele in the Eagles goal.
The KZN side could have increased their tally but were wasteful up front.
In the second half Eagles upped their tempo as they went in search of the equaliser – and they came close on several occasions but it was not to be. They dictated terms in this stanza but nothing bore fruit from their attempts.
Both sides made changes to their playing personnel but none could alter the score line.
In the end Uthongathi were crowned champions, winning R1 Million – a direct amount of eight hundred thousand rand (R800 000.00), plus an additional two hundred thousand rand (R200 000.00) to be applied for the development of youth football project chosen for by the winner in consultation with both SAFA and the Motsepe Foundation.
The battle completed a week-long tournament between nine provincial winners in the ABC Motsepe League. All were vying for the two spots available for promotion in the National First Division (NFD).
“It was not easy, but we enforced our tactical acumen and dominated the first half. In the second half Eagles threw everything forward but my troops dealt with that well. We could have scored on the break, but we failed to convert our chances. I am happy with the boys’ performance – tactically, they carried the instructions to perfection. For one goal, I will take the million rands,” said Ronnie Gabriels, head coach of Uthongathi.
They finished the play-offs without losing a match. They are aware that in the NFD things won’t be easy.
“Life in NFD is not easy and we understand that but we all know that the real work start now for us. In terms of players, I believe we have players who can compete there but at the same time we don’t want to be naïve and think we will make it – so a few additions in key positions will will help us maintain our position,” added an elated Gabriels.
For their efforts, Eagles won an amount of four hundred thousand rand (R400 000.00) with an additional one hundred thousand rand (R100 000.00) to be applied for the development of a youth football project chosen for by the runner-up in consultation with both SAFA and the Motsepe Foundation.
“We lacked sense of urgency, the legs were heavy, we played four matches and they played three, so they had agility much better than us – but that is no excuse. First half they outplayed us but we regrouped in the second stanza where we dominated play. We should have scored but on the day goals eluded us. Despite the loss, I am proud of the how the performed the entire week, and even more excited about promotion to the NFD,” said Tshegofatso Mashego, head coach of Super Eagles.
Uthongathi almost made a clean sweep with the individual awards. Celimpilo Ngema walked away with two accolades – Young Player of the Tournament and Player of the Tournament, while Martin Mthimkhulu was named the Goalkeeper of the Tournament.
The Top Goal Scorer Award was a three-way tie – Joseph Chikila (EC Bees), Thapelo Selepe (Super Eagles) and Mpho Erasmus (Zizwe United) – who scored four goals each.
INDIVIDUAL AWARD WINNERS
TOP GOAL SCORER FOR THE TOURNAMENT (4 goals each)
- (10) Joseph Chikila EC Bees
- (8) Thapelo Selepe Super Eagles
- (18) Mpho Erasmus Zizwe United
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT
- (17) Celimpilo Ngema (Uthongathi-KwaZulu Natal)
GOALKEEPER OF THE TOURNAMENT
- (1) Martin A. Mthimkhulu (Uthongathi-KwaZulu Natal)
PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT
- (17) Celimpilo Ngema (Uthongathi-KwaZulu Natal)
2017 ABC Motsepe National Play Off Tournament Stats (Click here)
At the end of the tournament, 22 players were selected and have been invited to a training camp. They will also face 2017 African Champions, Mamelodi Sundowns at a date still to be determined.
ABC MOTSEPE LEAGUE PLAYOFF SELECTION SQUAD 2016/2017
|No.||Name & Surname||Position||JSY No.||Club||Province|
|1||Martin A. MTHIMKHULU||Goalkeeper||1||Uthongathi||KwaZulu Natal|
|2||Smiso NDLELA||Goalkeeper||16||Acornbush United||Mpumalanga|
|3||Thandazo S. RADEBE||Left Back||21||Buya Msuthu||North West|
|4||Sifiso NYATHIKAZI||Left Back||4||Uthongathi||KwaZulu Natal|
|5||Phiwayinkosi K. DLODLO||Left-Centre Back||28||Uthongathi||KwaZulu Natal|
|6||Yondela NTINGISO||Left-Centre Back||5||EC Bees||Eastern Cape|
|7||Mogorosi D. MMETHI||Right Back||25||Buya Msuthu||North West|
|8||Sanele Deon QUEFACE||Right Back||15||Maccabi||Gauteng|
|9||Mzwandile BUTHELEZI||Right-Centre Back||5||Acornbush United||Mpumalanga|
|10||Tshediso MANYINGISA||Right-Centre Back||14||Super Eagles||Free State|
|11||Xolani SLAWULA||Right-Centre-Back||3||Uthongathi||KwaZulu Natal|
|12||Kobus KOK||Def. Midfielder||4||Buya Msuthu||North West|
|13||Tiisetso Victor NOOSI||Def. Midfielder||17||Super Eagles||Free State|
|14||Celimpilo NGEMA||Def. Midfielder||21||Uthongathi||KwaZulu Natal|
|15||Mpapa MOFOKENG||Att. Midfielder||15||Super Eagles||Free State|
|16||Mpho M. MATHEKGANE||Att/W Midfielder||32||Buya Msuthu||North West|
|17||Christoffer BALIE||Left Winger||8||Mainstay||Northern Cape|
|18||Khangela ZUNGU||Right/Left Winger||10||Uthongathi||KwaZulu Natal|
|19||Mudzunga SIDUMO||Right Winger||11||Acornbush United||Mpumalanga|
|20||Minenhle DLONGOLO||Striker||9||EC Bees||Eastern Cape|
|21||Tshepo C. SIBANDA||Striker/Winger||102||Buya Msuthu||North West|
Sourced from SAFA website.