Kaizer Chiefs defeated Mamelodi Sundowns in the Gauteng leg of the three-day tournament’s final to win the title of Engen U18 Knockout Challenge champions on Sunday.
Chiefs made their intentions known right away by defeating Randburg AFC, Jomo Cosmos (the defending champions), and Highlands Park in each of their three group games.
On Saturday afternoon, the young Amakhosi eliminated Black Aces from the competition, continuing their impressive form. On Sunday morning, the School of Excellence and other opponents competed in the semifinals. Wandile Duba, a goal-scoring machine for Amakhosi, scored a brace to secure a place in the championship game.
Mamelodi Sundowns, Chiefs’ opponents in the championship game, defeated SuperSport United on penalties to earn their spot.
The match was challenging because both teams were adamant about winning in a tense contest. Thulani Mabaso gave the Chiefs the early lead, but Sundowns juniors tied the score. The final score between the teams was a 1-1 draw. The contest was decided by a sudden-death penalty shootout, which Amakhosi won 2-1.
Given that the competition was held a week before the DStv Diski Shield, Coach Vela Khumalo, who was assisted by Donald Ace Khuse, thinks they achieved their goals.
“It’s a boost for us to win this tournament. It will help with the game that’s coming up this weekend against SuperSport Reserves,” said coach Khumalo after the game.
At the conclusion of the game, the young Amakhosi players received a number of individual awards. After scoring five significant goals in six games, Wandile Duba won the tournament’s striker of the tournament award as well as top goal scorer honours.
For his outstanding performance over the course of the three days, Jeremiah Thanyane received the defender of the tournament award.
“The standard of the game was quite high, but our standard is a bit higher because our boys are exposed to tough competition as some of them play in the DStv Diski Challenge, even though they are under 18. To show our strength, we didn’t even concede many goals because we were able to deal with the opposition, said Khumalo.
“Look, we had some under-17 players who will now be considered for the Reserve Team. We didn’t even play Mduduzi Shabalala, who still qualifies for the competition, but we let him stay with the senior team,” the Chiefs coach added.
The Western Cape will now host the tournament the following weekend, with KwaZulu-Natal and other provinces to follow.
Although winning is satisfying, Khumalo added, “what is important for us is the minutes and hours we need for a player to be properly developed.”
Later on in the year, Amakhosi will compete for the national Engen Knockout Challenge title against other provincial champions in the Champ of Champs. The national champion will then represent South Africa abroad.