Soc­cer a sure hit in De­cem­ber

Grocott's Mail - - SPORT - By STEPHEN PEN­NEY

Gra­ham­stown hosted the in­au­gu­ral New Year’s Cup soc­cer tour­na­ment over the fes­tive sea­son. The event ran from 16 De­cem­ber, with the clos­ing cer­e­mony and fi­nal on 31 De­cem­ber.

Gra­ham­stown-based out­fit, Makana Rhini United, made new friends and re­united with old, when they went on to win the tour­na­ment. Read about their road to suc­cess in­side this eight-page pull-out fea­ture. It was fit­ting that the two teams to make it through to the fi­nal were both un­beaten up to that stage.

Maru drew their first two games, and then went on to win the rest of their fix­tures.

Amavarara had a great start to the tour­na­ment, con­ced­ing their first goal only in the quar­ter-fi­nal game. The Amavarara goal­keeper, Gwangwa Mawethu, would end up named Goal­keeper of the Tour­na­ment.

“It has been a very cap­ti­vat­ing plat­form in all stages of the game, where rare tal­ent has been shown off,” said tour­na­ment or­gan­iser Si­fundo Klaas. In the 63 games played, a to­tal of 122 goals were scored.

Maru not only walked away with the con­veted tro­phy, but also bagged a whop­ping R100 000 for the club. Amavarara won R50 000. The third­placed team, Young Chiefs, won R25 000, while their op­po­nents in the third place play-off, Fair­field Hunt­ing Stars, col­lected R20 000.

Maru was drawn in what was im­me­di­ately called the Group of Death by this re­porter. They were drawn along­side neigh­bours City Pi­rates, MK Academy (Whit­tle­sea) and Young Chiefs (Alice).

That proved cor­rect, as the top two teams at the end of the group, Maru and Young Chiefs, made it through to the semi-fi­nals. That is where they met for the sec­ond time.

At the con­clu­sion of the tour­na­ment, a num­ber of in­di­vid­ual awards were given. The Player of the Tour­na­ment was awarded to Makhosandile Plaatjie of Young Chiefs.

Gwangwa Mawethu of Amavarara was named the Goal­keeper of the Tour­na­ment. The Young Player of the Tour­na­ment was awarded to Buyelekhaya Velel­wan­dle of Fair­field Hunt­ing Stars.

Luntu Bobotyane of Max XI was named top goal scorer. Maru’s, Bon­gani Lombo, fit­tingly won the Coach of the Tour­na­ment award.

Klaas con­firmed that the player of the tour­na­ment, Makhosandile Plaatjie, will jet off to Spain for a two-week train­ing camp in April.

“The New Year’s Cup tour­na­ment tar­gets the ru­ral ar­eas, as they most need foot­ball de­vel­op­ment and fi­nan­cial back-up,” said Klaas.

“The New Year's Cup aims to re­trieve the young tal­ented boys who don’t get a plat­form to ex­pose their tal­ent.”

Photo: Sue Maclen­nan

Maru play­ers and man­age­ment cel­e­brate as they hold a loft the New Year’s Cup win­ners’ tro­phy, af­ter they beat Amavarara in the fi­nal.

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