Arguably two of the best games of the Gareth Ncaca Foundation’s under-20 tournament involved Clarewood JPM AFC in the last group stage match and in the quarter-finals.
With only one group winner progressing through to the next stage, Clarewood beat Grassy Park United 1-0 in an epic group stage encounter at the Langa sports complex on Saturday.
The defending champions, Grassy Park, scored five goals in their previous games, heading into the final group stage match.
Coach Rezaan Jacobs said Grassy Park were well prepared for the tournament, and it was unfortunate they bowed out after a mistake they made as a team in the last few minutes of the game.
“The team performed quite well. We were unfortunate to concede the goal from our mistake in the last minutes. We mainly use the tournament as preparation for the Bayhill tournament coming up in the next two weeks,” said Jacobs.
Clarewood coach Rosco Hendricks said his technical side were aware of the pressure the team would face in all the games, especially against the boys from Rooikraans sports complex.
Clarewood were tactical in shifting their 4-3-3 formation into a 4-4-2 diamond shape in the centre to cause a deadly counter attack against Grassy Park. It proved well as they progressed to the quarters.
The following day, Clarewood bowed out 5-3 on penalties, following a 3-3 draw, against Everton FC, from Nyanga.
Clarewood took the lead in the first 15 minutes before they received a red-card. They conceded a penalty and the Nyanga-based side did not hesitate to equalise.
Everton went up front by 2-1 for a majority of the game before the side from the Wynberg LFA would find an equaliser.
The two sides scored again late in the second half while Everton also received a red-card, playing against 10-man each.
At the end of full-time, the two sides went to penalties with a scoreline of 3-3.
The day belonged to Everton’s goalkeeper as he saved a penalty that ensured their semi-final position in the 2023 campaign of the Gareth Ncaca Foundation under-20 tournament.
Coach Hendricks said it was a great experience for his under-16 and under-18 youngsters.
“It was a very good experience and learning curve for our boys. They are used to playing in a different culture of football in Wynberg,” he said.
After the game, Hendricks sat down with his young team, to encourage them to take the loss with their heads held up high.
“Stay committed. Stay dedicated. Stay the path. At the end of the day you will reap the hard work you put in,” he said.