They won the title at the under-12 soccer tournament’s national finals in Reiger Park this past weekend, beating Sekusile Primary School of Komatipoort 2-1 in the final.
The champion schools of all nine provinces were in action at the day-long tournament, Mophela being the KwaZulu-Natal provincial champions, while Sekusile were representing Mpumalanga.
Sekusile were unbeaten in the round-robin phase of the tournament. They beat Gauteng’s Acron Park Primary School 1-0, Banhara-Bodulong Intermediate School of the Northern Cape 2-0 and Isaac Booi Primary of the Eastern Cape 3-0 to top the one group.
Mophela also emerged unbeaten. They drew with one of the tournament favourites, Haggai Independent School, from Limpopo, they went on to beat Mmamitlwa Primary of Northwest 3-0; Western Cape’s Idas Valley 2-1 and Phaphama Puplic School 3-1 to top their section and qualify for the final .
Mophela took control of the final early on and were 2-0 up early in the second half. Sekusile pulled back a goal late in the game, but the KZN side held out for their first ever national title in the tournament.
As national champions they have earned the right to represent the country at the Danone Nations Cup World Finals in New York City, USA, in September.
Said Siyabonga Ndimane, the school’s voluntary coach. “Words fail me! It hasn’t sunk in yet but it is a dream come true. It has been a long journey which started in 2015. We won through to the national finals that year but didn’t do well. That spurred us on to plan ahead and the currently team is two years in the making. In fact two of my key players on Saturday have played in the Danone Nations Cup for three years.”
He admitted the quality of football was very good on the day and he did not expect to win. “Any school could have won judging by the standard of football I saw. In our group the team that challenged us the most was Haggai from Limpopo. Their technical skills such as passing and control of the ball were good. We drew that game. We then lost on penalties but fortunately the final result counted and a penalty shoot-out would only have come into play in the event of a tie.”
It is school holidays at the moment and he wants to boys to go home and relax and have fun and training for the world finals will start on their return. “My boys did an incredible job on the field and must now relax.”
But, admitted the coach, his school holidays will focus on researching past world finals, the teams they will be up against and he will work on new formats. “At the world finals there will be 31 other countries with different approaches to the game and different styles of play. I need to get our boys ready to expect anything. They must learn to be versatile and creative on the field. I need to encourage a lateral way of thinking.”
The coach admits he did not achieve this success on his own. “I must give credit to our principal, Mr Cyril Ntsele, the Durban Mayor, who assisted us by providing tracksuits and other key equipment and the community who all played a big role in our success.”