Maru keeps th
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.