Maru keeps th

Grocott's Mail - - NEW YEAR’S CUP - By CHRIS TOTOBELA and STEPHEN PEN­NEY

The New Year’s Cup tro­phy will re­main in Gra­ham­stown, af­ter Makana Rhini United Foot­ball Club (Maru) were crowned cham­pi­ons, beat­ing Queen­stown team Amavarara in the fi­nal.

The fi­nal, along with the New Year’s Cup clos­ing cer­e­mony, took place at JD Dlepu Sta­dium on Satur­day 31 De­cem­ber.

The tour­na­ment be­gan on Fri­day 16 De­cem­ber, with 32 teams de­scend­ing on Gra­ham­stown for the in­au­gu­ral event which has at­tracted in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion. The tour­na­ment is backed by Span­ish foot­ball league, La Liga.

Maru earned them­selves a healthy R100 000 win­ner’s cheque, which is sure to help the club im­prove in the up­com­ing South African Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion’s re­gional league sea­son.

Maru also re­mained un­beat- Photo: Sue Maclen­nan en in their seven tour­na­ment fix­tures.

In their first group stage game, Maru drew 2-2 to young Chiefs, the same team Maru would end up fac­ing in the semi-fi­nal.

They then drew their sec­ond group fix­ture 0-0 with neigh­bours, City Pi­rates, be­fore they be­gan their win­ning ways.

They beat MK Academy 2-0 in their last group game, to top their group.

In the last 16 they beat Archies 3-2, and then beat Motswedi 1-0 to book their spot in the semi-fi­nal.

The semis was the sec­ond time Maru would face Young Chiefs − but this time Maru con­trolled the game to win 4-2, thus set­ting up a fi­nal with Amavarara.

The fi­nal started at a blis­ter­ing pace with Amavarara con­trol­ling ev­ery­thing in the mid­field.

Maru kept on cheaply giv­ing away pos­ses­sion and putting them­selves un­der un­nec­es­sary pres­sure. It came as no sur­prise when Amavarara had the first real chance of the game: Maru de­fend­ers were caught ball­watch­ing and forced the keeper to come up with a bril­liant save.

Maru tried to work their way back into the game, but still found it dif­fi­cult to deal with the skil­ful op­po­si­tion mid­field­ers who looked very com­fort­able on the ball.

Maru strug­gled to find rhythm, bat­tling to put a few passes to­gether. The home side missed a great chance in one of their rare at­tacks.

Un­der enor­mous pres­sure, the wa­ter break came as a re­lief for the home side. The half­time score was 0-0. In the sec­ond half, Amavarara started where they left off, tak­ing the game to their op­po­nents. Although one of their mid­field­ers was sent off af­ter se­ri­ous foul play.

Makana Mayor Nomhle Gaga hands over the tro­phy to Maru.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.