young guns FIRE
If the Gauteng Challenge, staged at the Super Stadium in Tshwane on Saturday was to be judged purely on its entertainment value, one would have to say it was a success.
The tournament, featuring Soweto big shots Kaizer Chiefs and Moroka Swallows against Tshwane rivals Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United, was touted as a local interlude to the Africa Cup of Nations craze that has taken over the continent.
But the organisers neglected to market the matches adequately, and as a result the attendance was not that great.
The few who turned up, though, applauded the players' efforts and showed their frustration at the myriad missed chances.
The teams blooded youngsters and tried new combinations. Sadly, both matches were decided by penalty kicks.
The first match, between United and Swallows, was played under extremely hot conditions.
Nothing much happened, until Swallows' captain Tshweu Mokoro was brought down in the penalty area in the 14th minute.
Evans Gwekerere then slotted the ball past United's goalkeeper Dennis Onyango.
Matsatsantsa a Pitori equalised towards the end of the first half through skipper Ricardo Katza.
Swallows eventually won the match 6-5 on penalties.
"It was a worthwhile exercise, I saw what I wanted to see," said The Birds' coach, Ian Gorowa.
The second match of the day, between Chiefs and Sundowns, saw both sides parading their new acquisitions, with Downs' Gordon Igesund fielding new faces Papi Mungomeni, Innocent Mpangase, Tebogo Mathebula and Fanyana Dladla - a move that worked for them as Downs controlled the first half of the match. They scored first, in the tenth minute, through a great goal by Lungisani Ndlela.
Amakhosi never looked intimidated, and created some great scoring chances for the likes of Michael Nkambule and Tshepo Bulu. They finally equalised through Tinashe Nengomasha, but Sundowns won the match 5-4 on penalties.
"We missed a lot of chances, but it's exciting for me as coach to see such promise from the young ones. With a bit more patience this team can go far," Chiefs' coach Muhsin Ertugral said.