Blackpool has eyes on Knockout title

Salr River Blackpool goalscorer Zaheer Stellenboom, right, gets away from his marker, Vincent Matare, from Santos, during their Super League clash at the William Herbert sports ground, earlier this month.

Salt River Blackpool FC are looking to end their season on a high note as they prepare to defend their Knockout Cup trophy.

Their season has been like a rollercoaster ride with all the highs and lows.

But despite their low-key start to their Super League campaign at the Cape District Football Association (CDFA) and mixed results throughout the season, Blackpool still has a chance to lift the Knockout Cup again.

Team manager, Igbal Kasker, said the team struggled to find their footing at the start of the season because they lacked experience.

Last weekend, they beat the league champions Greenwood Athletic 3-1 in a league encounter. Zaheer Stellenboom gave the Salt River-based side a 1-0 lead into the break, and got his brace in the second half before his brother, Moosa, got the third goal. At the weekend, they continued their good run and beat Grassy Park United 7-1.

“Even though the league is already decided, we are still fighting to survive so we went all out against Greenwood. Our aim was to get at least a point from that game, but we managed to pull off an upset and got the win,” said Kasker.

“In the second half our game plan was to absorb the pressure because we knew they would come at us,” he said.

“It was a good all-round performance and the team did a great job in following the coach’s instructions. Greenwood was unbeaten this season so this win will give us confidence going into the Knockout semi-final,” he said.

Kasker said this season three teams will be relegated from the Super League instead of two.

Bottom of the table South End FC are sitting on 10 points and Blackpool are on 27.

With four games remaining for the bottom three teams and with the tight point difference, Blackpool can’t get too comfortable in their final four league matches.

“Battswood was relegated from the third division last season and will compete with us in the Super League next year – that’s why a third team needs to be relegated,” said Kasker.

“We struggled in the first half of the season because we tried to play with more youngsters.

“But, they struggled and that’s when we decided to bring in a few experienced players to ensure we stay in the Super League.

“Last season we finished mid-table but won the Knockout Cup and are defending our title.

“We beat Greenwood 1-0 in the final with Moosa Stellenboom finding the back of the net,” he said.

Earlier this month, Blackpool beat Clarewood in their knockout quarter-final clash, another match which tested the character of the players.

While the rest of the club’s teams have done well to remain competitive in their respective divisions, their under-10 side have shown they are a team for the future.

The under-10 team are unbeaten in the league and are still in contention for their Knockout Cup.

“Our Super League team are through to the semi-final and are scheduled to play Wolves.

“If we win that match then it’s possible we could face Greenwood again in the final. On paper, Greenwood look to be favourites for the Cup because they have a strong side and won the league with six games to spare,” said Kasker.

“We beat Clarewood 4-1 in the quarters. It was a tough match because we were down to 10 men and were trailing 1-0 at the break.

“But the boys kept pushing and we managed to score four goals,” he said.

Their win against Greenwood last week will be a huge confidence booster as they head into the Knockout semi-final clash, this weekend.