Habitual rivals clash once more

JL Zwane's Akhona Gononda and Glendene United's Themelihle Mxunjeni battle for possession during their quarter-final clash in the GreenSmile Foundation's under-21 tournament at The Greens a fortnight ago.

Last year’s Premier Cup finalists, JL Zwane, and eventual winners, Cape District’s Glendene United seem to be making a habit of facing off in the final round of big competitions.

The two sides are among 24 teams from across the city set to take part in the 6th annual Kenpark United Arising Stars under-23 tournament, in Mitchell’s Plain, at the weekend.

Champions Glendene United – who compete in the Cape District Football Association (CDFA) at the William Herbert Sports Ground – were drawn in Group A, along with Arials, FC Manenberg and Everton United.

JL Zwane can be considered among the favourites to top Group D where they will face Ashley Rovers, Woodlands United and Invincible Cravenby.

The two squads also met at an under-21 tournament, in Manenberg, last week with Glendene eliminating their Gugs rivals in the quarter-finals.

The Chukker Road-based side were eventually crowned champions after beating a stubborn Ikapa Sporting 4-2 on penalties, in a nail-biting final last Sunday.

Glendene’s road to the final was impressive as they looked consistent in their approach. They collected six points in the group stages after winning two and drawing one of their three matches, scoring three goals, without conceding, in the process. Their draw came in their opening match against the Rygate LFA team. They went on to beat JL Zwane 3-1 in the quarters before dumping Rygate on penalties after a goalless draw.

Ikapa provided the fiercest resistance to Glendene’s onslaught, as they matched their opponents in all departments.

The final score was 0-0 and the two sides had to be separated by penalties. Glendene assistant coach Mangaliso “Shakes” Ntombana praised the Ikapa players for pushing his team all the way to the penalties.

“The tournament was a good test for our players who, once again, showed character and delivered when the need arose,” he said. Ntombana, like most coaches in the tournament, has his sights set on the upcoming Kenpark under- 23 tournament.

Matches will kick off on Friday June 17, at 4.30pm, at the Stephen Reagon Sports Complex, in Park Avenue, Westridge, Mitchell’s Plain.

Meanwhile, JL Zwane coach Thando Sodinga will encourage his charges to put last weekend’s disappointment behind them.

“We would hope to at least make it to the semi-finals after we were knocked-out in the quarter-finals last year. I believe we can overcome any obstacle. The competition will be another chance for them to showcase their skills,” he said.