Bantam weighs in on Steenberg

SHIFAAN RYKLIEF

Steenberg United captain, Marawaan ‘Beans’ Bantam, used his experience to help the club win the regional second division’s ABC Motsepe league title, earlier this month.

The attacking midfielder is no stranger to the pressure of winning league titles, after he helped Cape Town All Stars win promotion to the National First Division (NFD) two years ago.

Steenberg’s coach, Mike Lukhubene, is also familiar with what it takes to win promotion – he won promotion to the second tier with Chippa United in the 2010/11 season.

The duo has clicked well this season as Lukhubene barked instructions from the sidelines, and Bantam executed them well in his leadership role with their young squad.

Apart from winning the league, they also did well in the Nedbank Cup and were knocked out by Premier Soccer League (PSL) side Platinum Stars in the round of 32.

They lost 5-4 on penalties following a 1-1 draw. The second division league title was decided on the final day of the season as they only had a one point lead ahead of last year’s champions, Glendene United.

Steenberg faced Manenberg’s Crystal Palace away from home, while Glendene played The Magic FC.

“The last game was always going to be a tough one because we played at the Greens Astroturf, in front of a hostile crowd.

“The younger players were a bit nervous before the game because the crowd were chirping us, saying we are not coming here to beat Crystal Palace,” said Beans.

“But I reminded them that we were there to do a job, and we needed to go out there and do the business. I started on the bench in that game because coach has a motto that he doesn’t change a winning team. And, I was not part of the team that won in our previous league match.

“Palace scored in the first six minutes of the game and led by one goal up until the last minutes of the game. I came on in the 85th minute and we equalised two minutes later through Ismaeel Stanfield.

“Then, defender Edmund Petersen scored the winner for us during added injury time,” he said.

The former Santos player said the match goes down as one of the highlights of his soccer career.

Some other memorable matches include playing against Sundowns and Orlando Pirates while donning the Santos jersey.

“In the game against Sundowns, I was not part of the coach’s plans and needed to make my presence felt.

“I scored two goals against them and we won 3-1 win. Shortly after that match, I scored a brace against Pirates in a 2-2 draw – that’s when my career took off.

“Winning the league with Steenberg has been fantastic.

“What made it more interesting than when I won it with All Stars, is that it was more tough and went down to the wire.

“With All Stars we were well ahead and already knew we would take the league,” he said.

Beans started playing soccer at his neighbourhood club, Blue Gum Wizards, in Bonteheuwel.

After a couple of seasons he moved to Sporting United and had stints with Saxon Rovers and Avondale in the NFD – before he signed his first professional contract with Santos and then moving to Bidvest Wits and Mpumalanga Black Aces.

His experience will not go unnoticed when his squad takes part in the promotion playoffs from Monday June 6 to Sunday June 12, Bloemfontein.

* Results on the final day of games: Glendene United beat The Magic FC 1-0; Zizwe United drew 2-2 with Grassy Park United; and RC Athletico beat Milano United 0-2.

* Log standings: Steenberg United (66pts), Glendene United (65pts), and Barcelona FC (58Pts).