The men of steel…

Under-18 coach Nadeem Fredericks speaks to assistant coach Gershwin Campher ahead of a league encounter.

The Steenberg-based side’s under-18 coach, Nadeem Fredericks, who took over the coaching reins from Lionel Miller, said he had big shoes to fill as last season’s under-18 squad set the bar high.

Fredericks said he always enjoyed working in the engine room as a number two. But this season he decided to challenge himself and took a step up to the role of head coach.

Having been with the club for more than 14 years, he was well aware of the ins-and-outs and which promising youngsters were coming through the club ranks.

And, Fredericks did not disappoint in his maiden season. His side have already claimed the league title and are through to the Knockout Cup quarter-finals.

“I always knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task. What made it even more tough this season was that we needed to rebuild the squad because most of the players moved up to the senior team.

“Only four players were still eligible to play under-18, and the rest of the squad is made up of last year’s under-16 team,” said Fredericks.

“There’s been a lot of pressure on me because last year’s under-18s were great. They qualified for the under-19 Premier Cup, won the Fullham Tournament in Mitchell’s Plain, were crowned LFA League champions and won the Grand Challenge Cup,” he said.

This season, we’ve only lost the first game of the season, and remained unbeaten since then.

“Midway through the season, the LFA combined the two under-18 streams, which meant there was more competition and more games to play.

“Our only defeat was a 1-0 loss against Southampton. And, with the league already wrapped up, the teams were divided into two groups to battle it out for the Grand Challenge Cup.

“The top team in each group will clash in the Grand Challenge final. We’ve already played three group games. We beat Southampton in our first group game; last week we won against All Stars and, we drew 1-1 against Ocean View at the weekend,” he said.

Fredericks said playing in Ocean View is always a great experience because of the big crowd, but at the same time he acknowledged that it’s never easy to come away with a point.

Earlier this year, they competed in the under-19 Premier Cup, where they finished runners-up in the plate section and won the most promising amateur team at the tournament.

“We had a tough group and were drawn against AmaZulu, SuperSport United and Cape United.

“We finished third in the group and went through to the plate section. We reached the final and lost 1-0 to Mitchell’s Plain Clinic of Excellence (MPCE). They had one chance, which was from a penalty, and they took it,” said Fredericks.

Greenwood’s Super League side, headed by Miller, also won their league title and are still in the running for their Knockout Cup.

With lots still to play for in their domestic league, Greenwood are still far from done as they prepare to defend their title at the Fullham Tournament, in October; and they are already looking ahead at next year’s Premier Cup.

“Last year, we beat JL Zwane 1-0 in the final at the Fullham Tournament, and my task is to retain the cup. The boys have been playing good football, and our fitness coach, Walter Smith, has been keeping them in great shape. We will also be keeping this squad together for next year’s Premier Cup,” said Fredericks.