Eastern Cape secured the SAFA U19 Women’s Regional League Women’s Championship title, after beating Mpumalanga 4-2 on penalties, following a 0-0 draw after full-time on Saturday.
It wasn’t the first time that the team reached the final stages of the SAFA inter-provincial tournament, which took place at the Nike Football Training Centre in Pimville, Soweto, having won it before in 2011 when it was referred to as the ABSA U19 tournament.
In the first half, Eastern Cape dominated matters, moving forward in pursuit of finding an early opener in the game.
Attacking midfielder, Nicole Brooks, was the genius behind every attacking move her side pulled when pressing forward.
The petite-framed but speedy 18-year-old player easily found pockets of space in Mpumalanga’s half, forcing them to either clear crosses or commit fouls each time that the opposition attempted an attack.
Mpumalanga showed ill-discipline when they fouled the player a mere nine minutes into the game. Brooks had broken into the box after having evaded her markers in an attempt to take a shot towards the goalmouth. The match official, however, decided to point at the corner instead of the penalty spot.
Eastern Cape’s aggressiveness in attack and superior defending at the back, forced Mpumalanga to deal with the pressure the only way they could; and that is clear the ball for either a corner or throw-in.
Matters remained tight going into the second period of the match as both sides opted for tactical substitutions to help improve their respective performances up into the final third. Both teams did not budge though and the encounter went on to the dreaded penalty shootout.
Meanwhile, the Western Cape Province, who came into this tournament as defending champions, finished third after beating Gauteng 2-1 in their encounter.
Chelsea Daniels was the heroine after finding the back of the net in the very last minute of each half to score a welcome brace.
The 16-year-old South African national Under-17 (Bantwana) attacker, expressed that she decided to participate in this year’s tournament to help keep fit leading up to this year’s FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup, set to take place in Uruguay.
Champions: Eastern Cape
Third place: Western Cape
Fourth Place: Gauteng
Player of the Tournament: NoxoloCesana (Western Cape)
Goalkeeper of the Tournament: Alexandra Vena (Eastern Cape)
Top goal-scorer: Chelsea Daniels, 12 goals (Western Cape)
Coach of the Tournament: Ms. LindeniShabangu (Mpumalanga)
Referee of the Tournament: Ms. Promise Nyathi
Source:South African Football Association