A contender that has been playing in the tournament for five years, and for the first time has managed to win through to the provincial finals is Sukuma Comprehensive School of Pietermaritzburg who will be representing the UMgungundlovu district.
“We have been looking forward to reaching this level for a very long time now and for some of the players this is the last time they will be playing for the school, so it’s important,” said team manager and coach, Xolani Mpungose.
Although this is the first time this team has qualified for the Kay Motsepe provincial finals, they have played at this level in one of the other SASFA tournaments, so the team knows about the pressure that comes with playing at this level, and will be ready.
“The current under-19 team has been playing together since 2012,” Mpungose said. “I am lucky to have a good crop of boys that are dedicated and give 110% in training and in matches. We have been growing every year.”
The journey leading up to the provincial finals has been impressive. The team played 7 games and won them all, conceding just one goal. Their highest score was 8-0 against Mpungose Secondary School in the district finals.
Maritzburg is hosting the provincial finals, so Mpungose expects a big home crowd to be watching them play. “Our plan for the provincials is to capitalise on our strengths, we have to be quick on our feet because we do not have tall players,” he said. “We are not threatened by any school, although we are expecting tough competition and we have prepared for it.”
Mpungose does not see their lack of provincial experience in this tournament as a disadvantage. “Every year new schools come through to the provincials because they have grown from their past failures. We have been preparing for this since 2012. We have a good team that supports each other.”
“It’s all about preparing the team mentally and physically, we don’t put the team under pressure. At the end of the day there has to be one winner and a lot of losers, we always tell the team to go out there play soccer and they must remember to have fun and take in as much as they can.”
Mpungose does not have any formal coaching qualifications, but did play for KZN University while studying. He also teaches accounting, Maths and Economic Management Science at the school.
“Soccer has always been my passion. From an early age I knew that I wanted to be associated with soccer, and as a teacher I now have that opportunity” he said.
The teams that will be participating in the KwaZulu-Natal provincial finals are:
Empangeni High School - UThungulu District
Zwelethu High School - UMlazi District
Umqhele High School - Pinetown District
Umthwazi High School - UMkhanyakude District
Dingukwazi High School – Zululand District
Guzana Secondary School - ILembe District
Sukuma Comprehensive School – UMgungundlovu District
Ingabade High School - Amajuba District