Steenberg stumble in final…

Steenberg High's Marcus Leebenberg, right, holds off his marker in their under-19 Sasfa Cape Town inter-district final against Excelsior.

Steenberg’s under-19s side were unbeaten en route to the final, having won four and playing to a draw in only one of their five matches. In fact, Excelsior was one of their victims when Steenberg recorded a 2-0 win in the group stages.

The southern suburbs side found themselves in Group D alongside Lansdowne’s Groenvlei, Excelsior and Blue Downs’s Malibu high schools. They had a shaky start to the tournament, drawing 1-1 against Groenvlei.

That, however, seemed to be the wakeup call their needed early on in the competition as they bounced back strongly to beat Excelsior and Malibu 2-0 and 2-1 respectively, to book their spot in the quarter finals against Belgravia High.

The Athlone-based side had an equally impressive run ahead of the quarter-finals and were not going to stop at that stage of the competition.

They did provide some resistance but, in the end, it was Steenberg who emerged victorious, winning 2-1 to set a semi-final date against Gardens Commercial High School.

Playing on a bumpy pitch at Site C Stadium the players from both sides needed to be extra cautious in terms of their approach.

But, to their credit, they were able to let the ball do the running.

That proved to be a tactical match as neither of the sides gave anything away. But Steenberg were able to take the one chance that came their way to record a 1-0 victory.

Their next opponents, in the final, were none other than Excelsior whom their beat 2-0 in the earlier stages of the competition.

And, because of that, Steenberg went to the final as slight favourites to lift the trophy.

However, it soon became clear that the Belhar side had learnt something from their previous game, as they were a different side in to the final.

Going to the final, Excelsior had to dig even deeper in order to overcome a stubborn Ravensmead side in the semi-final.

The two sides had a long and bruising battle where neither was prepared to give up and the match had to be decided on penalties.

Ravensmead missed two of their four spot kicks while the Belhar side converted all of them to win 4-2.

In the final, both Steenberg and Excelsior made their intentions clear in the early stages of the match, frequenting each other’s defensive thirds.

That continued throughout the match but the Belhar side slowly got the grip of the game.

One goal in each half was enough to hand victory, and the winners’ trophy, to Excelsior.

Steenberg coach Clive Biegnaar said his players did well under the circumstances.

This, he said, was because the first time they played Excelsior, in the group stages, they only had 10 players and, in the final, they played with 11 players and no substitutes.

“We were able to beat them despite having a man short.

“Going to the final both teams had just played their semi-final matches a few minutes earlier, so that did have an effect on the way the players performed in the final.

“Having said that, however, I think the players played good football and showed that they wanted to win the competition,” he said.

Biegnaar also noted that his side have learnt valuable lessons from the competition and, as a result, will bounce back stronger next year.

“Yes, I am going to lose four players who are in matric right now but, other than that, the core of the team remains, going forward.

“There are also exciting 16 and 17-year-olds coming through.

“We will, definitely, be the force to be reckoned with come next year,” he said.