Panthers roar

Meshack Khotha

Meshack Khotha

Soweto Panthers boss Ali Mokoena has eulogised his charges after lifting the 2007 Danone U-12 World Nations trophy in France at the weekend.

This after the Soweto outfit registered a convincing 3-0 victory over hosts France in a tough but entertaining final.

Panthers became the third South African team to win the prestigious competition after Orlando Pirates in 2003 and the Tsetse Fly select squad in 2002. The team also won a prize for the best defence because they did not concede a single goal in regulation time.

But their success was blighted by claims of age cheating. Mokoena refused to comment on the allegations.

Zach Masetle, Safa head of competitions, said in a meeting between stakeholders, Panthers were cleared of the allegations of cheating because there was no proof.

"It was also decided that we should hold further talks regarding the age-restricted competition in future."

Alpha Mchunu, head of delegation for Safa, who was in France yesterday, said Panthers had made the country proud and an estimated 15 000 crowd never stopped praising the boys for their splendid performance.

Panthers surprised all and sundry when they won all their games without conceding a goal in regulation time in nine matches, including the finals.

Turkey did put two past them in the semifinals, but that was in a penalty shootout, which Panthers won 3-2.