Matli will soon be a big name in lo­cal foot­ball

CityPress - - Sport - SIL­VER SIBIYA sil­ver.sibiya@city­

Thato Matli – be sure to re­mem­ber this name be­cause the 15year-old will be a house­hold name in South African foot­ball in the near fu­ture.

Matli was the toast of the Copa Coca-Cola Un­der-15 na­tional tour­na­ment in Bloemfontein – he cap­tained his school to vic­tory. His five goals also earned him the top goal-scorer ac­co­lade.

The jersey num­ber 10 scored the win­ning goal, en­sur­ing that Clapham High were crowned this year’s cham­pi­ons af­ter de­feat­ing Dr JL Dube High 2-1 at the Man­gaung Sports Com­plex.

“I was ex­pect­ing to be the player of the tour­na­ment, but I am happy I got this [top goal-scorer] award,” he said.

Matli said he hoped other young­sters were in­spired to par­tic­i­pate in next year’s tour­na­ment.

He has now set his sights on big­ger things and is look­ing for­ward to tak­ing the op­por­tu­nity to join the Un­der-17 Fu­ture Champs com­pe­ti­tion next year.

The de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme has pro­duced big names in lo­cal foot­ball, in­clud­ing Bel­gium-based Bafana Bafana mid­fielder Andile Jali, who now plays for KV Oos­tende, Bloemfontein Celtic striker Ndu­miso Mabena and Mandla Masango, who played for Kaizer Chiefs and now rep­re­sents Dan­ish club Ran­ders.

Matli says prayer and hard work keep him go­ing.

He also reck­ons that sup­port from his family has been in­stru­men­tal in his growth.

Matli joined Clapham High last year, but they were un­able to reach the na­tional fi­nals af­ter los­ing in the pro­vin­cial play-offs. How­ever, they were not to be de­nied this year and they sol­diered on un­til the end.

The school, which is coached by for­mer Mamelodi Sun­downs and Bafana Bafana winger Isaac Shai, walked away with R80 000, while the run­ners up re­ceived R30 000.

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