Masidlale Academy’s quest for a third under-18 Coke Cup title is still on track after they beat Milano United 2-0 in a quarter-final clash, in Khayelitsha, last weekend.
The Nyanga-based side were favourites coming to the encounter, having appeared in three finals in four years.
Coach Zamile Ncanywa and his backroom staff would also know what is expected when it comes to crunch time.
And it does not get any crunchier than the quarter-finals.
The Grassy Park side started like a house on fire, putting pressure on their opponents from the get go. But missed opportunies came back to haunt Milano when Masibuve Nombexeza opened the scoring for last year’s champions midway through the first half, giving his side a 1-0 lead going into the break.
Milano came out in the second half with a never-say-die attitude but simply could not find the back of the net. They sealed the deal in the final quarter of the game when Luto Hlanga scored his side’s second goal.
Ncanywa said he was happy with the way his players approached the game.
“We kept our composure and played smart football after Milano put us under pressure. We did not panic and found the back of the net twice,” he said.
This had been Masidlale’s toughest test in this year’s competition as they have beaten teams comfortably en route to the quarter-finals.
Ncanywa said none of games are easy because on the day anything is possible.“We have taken it game by game. We never underestimated our opponents and played our natural game. We were able to adapt to any situation the opposition threw at us,” he said.
Masidlale will now face Simunye’s Junior Pirates, who beat Elsies River’s Eastern Rovers 5-4 on penalties, in the semi-finals . In the other semifinal Glendene United will face Hellenic FC.
“Last year’s victory is a great motivation for the players. Every year our sides seem to be getting better and better,” said Ncanywa.
Established in 2009, the club won the tournament in 2012 and last year. They were also losing finalists in 2014, going down 2-0 to Ajax Cape Town who had won the title in 2013 as well.
In last year’s final they demolished Bonteheuwel’s Sporting United 4-0 in a rather one-sided affair. A brace from captain Kganya Moiloa was the difference between the two sides.
Club chairman Thanduxolo Ncwadi said reaching the semi-finals means a lot to them because it puts them one game away from defending their title.
“It will be great to be in our fourth final in five years. This would have not been possible without the dedication and expertise from our management and technical team,” he said.
Ncwadi said the club is headed in the right direction in terms of youth development.“We are also doing well in the Nyanga Local Football Association Super League as most of our sides are in the top three and hope to end the season with a bang,” he said.