Panthers book place in Paris

Meshack Khotha

Meshack Khotha

Soweto Panthers from Gauteng will represent South Africa in the lucrative Danone Nations World Cup set for France from June 28 to July 1.

The Sowetans attained this after convincingly beating Manchester United from Western Cape 3-0 in a scintillating final of the Danone Under-12 national playoffs at D'Amedia Stadium in Mossel Bay yesterday.

Both sides qualified for the final after topping the logs in the Inland and Coastal streams.

Panthers captain Kabelo "Captain" Mcelu put their victory down to teamwork in the four-day tournament.

"It is a mission accomplished and we are looking forward to representing our country with dignity and pride in France," said the excited 10- year-old.

Ali Mokoena, owner of Panthers, could also not hide his excitement as he hugged his future stars after the game.

Panthers attacked relentlessly and defended bravely from the onset with the intent to unsettle their opponents.

But United matched their opponents pound-for-pound in the opening minutes, with striker Lilitha Feni giving the Panthers defence led by Laurence Mabunda a torrid time at one stage.

But the Western Cape outfit lost concentration after Panthers had opened the scoring through Fabio "Kaeleni" Nhlanhla's low shot in the 18th minute.

Panthers' top goalscorer Tshepiso Ngcobo scored his sixth goal of the tournament with a cracking shot to give his team a comfortable 2-0 lead.

Still dominating proceedings, Ndizakuthini Khumalo sealed victory for the Gautengers with a brilliant goal in the 36th minute.

KwaZulu-Natal Fight Killers defeated defending champions Arsenal from Mpumalanga 3-2 on penalties in the loser's final.

Killers' scorers were Sephehlise Zikode, Wandile Ncube and Sakhile Mtshali while Nkosinathi Eugine and Tsetsi Mahapi netted for Arsenal.

Panthers received R5000, a trophy and gold medals, while the runners-up United got R4000, a trophy and silver medals. Third-placed Killers walked away with R3000, a trophy and bronze medals.