This year’s edition of the Bayhill under-19 Premier Cup kicks off at Erica Park in Belhar today, Wednesday April 12, and one
of the matches of the day is the derby between Grassy Park United and Stephanian Ottery, in an opening Group B encounter.
The two sides know each other very well and that game will mark the start of the gruelling campaign as they are in a tough group, which also has six-time champions and last year’s finalists Ajax Cape Town as well as little know Virginia Academy.
It is, however, guaranteed, that both sides will give it their all. They both have, after all, shown in the past that they can beat anyone on the day. And, their group opener promises to be a good game as both sides had a decent qualification campaign.
Stephs, for instance, finished second in Group B behind Jean Marc Ithier Academy. The sides were level on five points but JMI finished top, thanks to a superior goal difference.
The Ottery-based outfit won one and drew two of their three qualifying matches to book their spot in Belhar. They scored one goal without conceding.
Grassy Park also finished second in their Group with six points, after winning two and losing one of their three matches. They scored four and conceded one goal in the process.
One of the highlights of Stephs game has been their solid defence, which meant they do not concede unnecessary goals. They produced three clean sheets in the last round of qualifiers.
One of the reasons for this has been the solid performances between the sticks by their goalkeeper Caleb Gallant. The Grade 12 pupil at Michael Oak Waldorf School has been playing consistently well for his side for a number of seasons now, and his performances haven’t gone unnoticed.
Last year, the 17-year-old, from Ottery, was named goalkeeper of the year by the club.
And, as if that was not enough, he was promoted to their first team at the beginning of this season. He never looked back.
The young stopper said their preparations for this year’s Premier Cup were on point and the team is ready to show what they are capable of.
“We started our preparations back in November last year and, for two months, did a lot of fitness and stamina training. That was followed by time in the gym where we did some weights and even boxing,” he said.
“So, looking back at the past few months, I think we have progressed a lot. Our coaches also made sure we are in shape and have the correct frame of mind,” he said.
Caleb said their matches against Grassy Park have always been intense affairs, with each side creating goal-scoring chances. Having said that, however, the youngster refused to point out to any strengths or weaknesses they have identified in their opponents’ game.
“All I can tell you is that this is one of our biggest matches and we are expecting a tough and exciting encounter.
“Stephs is my life and they have taught me all I know about football. So, that is why I want to do well for the club,” he said.