Durban – Mpumalanga looks to make history in the 2018 U21 National Championships as they topped the Group A log standings, sinking home team – Kwa-Zulu Natal in the process.
Mpumalanga dominated the game right from the beginning, when Sandile Mabuya (Jersey no.3) found the back of the net in the 28th minute of the game. Mabuya netted a second goal in the 75th minute to crush any hope the team and home crowd had for a comeback.
The Kwa-Zulu Natal side was a shadow of the team they were in the past two days of the National Championships, although their defensive abilities have been under-fire as they had goals scored against them in all their games. On Day 2, the team gave away a two-goal lead to eventually draw 3 – 3 against Gauteng, where the defending champions equalized in extra time.
Kwa-Zulu Natal’s showing in the tournament is a contrast to that of Mpumalanga which has given solid performances throughout the Championships. Mpumalanga is the only team that has not yet conceded any goals or wins registered against them, and 21-year old goalkeeper, Bonginkosi Nkosi played a central role in that. Nkosi hails from the Gert Sibande region in Ermelo, Mpumalanga and has been playing in the SAB League for the past four years, this being his third year as a participant in the National Championships.
Since the tournament’s inception in the 2008/09 season, Mpumalanga has reached the finals twice in 2010/11 and 2012/13, while settling for bronze in 2010/11, 2011/12, 2016/17. The team topped the Group A log standing with 10 points while Gauteng qualified through a larger goal margin against Kwa-Zulu Natal, after thumping Northern Cape 6 – 1 in an earlier game.
“We feel honored to have beaten the home team. This has given us confidence moving forward. We defended the way the coach told us to and we played well under the instruction of the coach.” said Nkosi who has hopes of making history with Mpumalanga this year “we are trying to prevent the mistakes (made in the past). It has given us full confidence and there is nothing that can come in our way now. This group was tough and we managed top this group, we can go to the final and make it.” Added Nkosi.
Having topped Group A, Mpumalanga will play against an equally motivated Limpopo side on Day 4 of the tournament. The second semi-final game will be a repeat of the 2017 Championship final, as Group A runner-up Gauteng is up against a dominant USSA side also at 11h00.
Semi-Finals on Day 4, 20 July 2018 at the King Zwelithini Stadium will begin at 11h00.
Day 3 Results:
|Northern Cape||1 – 6||Gauteng|
|USSA||2 – 0||North West|
|Mpumalanga||2 – 0||Kwa-Zulu Natal|
|Limpopo||1 – 0||Eastern Cape|