Sun Oct 23 03:36:44 CAT 2016

that's more like it

By unknown | May 29, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Meshack Khotha

Meshack Khotha

The Vodacom Second Division National Playoffs, which ended with Vasco da Gama as champions, were well organised and completed without much incidence in Potchefstroom and Klerksdorp at the weekend.

For the first time in 10 years 18 teams competed in the week-long event - the nine provincial league winners and the runners-up.

Traditionally only the nine winners featured in the playoffs.

The tournament started a day later than scheduled because of an arbitrator's ruling to include the runners-up.

The second-placed clubs had taken Safa to arbitration for excluding them from a tournament they had initially been included in.

Jeff Monnakgotla, Safa's acting director of competitions, said the tournament was a roaring success considering the fact they had three days of arbitration to integrate the other nine teams.

Credit should go to the communities of Klerksdorp and Potchefstroom who packed the stadiums from day one.

"We appreciate the people of North West, especially soccer lovers, for their unwavering support," said Monnakgotla.

"They also helped us celebrate the 10th anniversary of the playoffs in style."

The lack of controversy was refreshing, especially for a tournament that has been marred by protests and allegations of bribery.

And the runners-up were not merely happy to be there . They posed a great challenge to some of the provincial winners in the elimination stages.

Two of the good clubs were Mafube United, under the tutelage of Teboho "Tebza" Moloi, and coach Johannes "Fetsi" Molatedi's side Matatiele Professionals, who were knocked out in the semifinals.

They almost caused an upset, United losing 2-1 to eventual inland stream winners Carara Kicks and Professionals going down to Vasco by the same margin in the coastal stream.

Both stream winners have been promoted to the National First Division.

Coached by Carlos das Neves, Vasco, from Western Cape, won the Promotion League championship after beating Kicks 3-0 in the final. They conceded two goals and scored 11 in their march to the title.

Kicks' forward Tebelo Mofokeng deservedly walked away with the Vodacom player of the tournament award for his marvellous display.

The stockily built Mofokeng also shared the top goal scorer award with teammate John Tsotetsi after scoring six goals each.

Das Neves won the coach of the tournament award while Vasco's young goalkeeper Darren Keet was named the top keeper.

The standard of refereeing was also of a high quality. Credit should go to referee Daniel Bennet who had a superb team.

The tournament drew a large number of scouts who were vying to sign new players.

But there was great concern because there were few players under the age of 20 and there was also a lack of quality players. Most of the players at the tournament were over 21.

This raises the worrying question: what is happening to the development structures?

Former Benoni United midfielder and now president of Safa West Rand region, Meshack "Wonder" Mjangqeka, said organisers should nurture talent at an early age.

He added that the question of development should be a matter of urgency and an age limit must be considered as a priority.

Serame Letsoaka, national Under-20 team coach, shared the same sentiments as the trip was not fruitful for him.

"I am disappointed. Most of the players were overage for me. Another thing is that instead of seeing up-and-coming players, the tournament was flooded by ex-professionals."

Familiar faces included former Orlando Pirates player James Mothibi, Leonard Casner (Bidvest Wits) and Brian Sebapole (Jomo Cosmos).

The tournament also attracted some former professionals who agreed that there was an urgent need to address the development of players if we hope to see South Africa producing more quality players in future.

Former Pilkington United Brothers midfielder John "Mahazel" Serathi said it was imperative to revive the development structures.

Howard Freeze, Platinum Stars' development coach, and Jacob "Cellular" Sakala lamented the shortage of Under-20 players at the playoffs.

North West Premier Edna Molewa, members of her cabinet and Safa president Molefi Oliphant also graced the occasion.

The event was almost spoiled by food poisoning, which sidelined eight players from Vasco . Journalists and officials were also affected.

Overall the organisation was superb and the tournament was a success. Well done to co-host cities Klerksdorp and Potchefstroom.


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