The Safa Cape Town Coca Cola Cup competition were slowly approaching business end, and competition was beginning to heat up.
Things were even hotter on July 10 – both in terms of the weather and the action on the field – as 64 teams, in the senior and under-18 divisions, battled for a place in the last 32.
Bonteheuwel, Mandela Park, The Greens and Strandfontein were the venues and, as it has been the case in the past, the under-18 youngsters played with energy and flair that kept the fans on their toes. Games were tightly contested and some of the favourites sent out a clear message, with convincing results.
Playing at Strandfontein sports complex, Milano United proved too good for Cape District side Salt River Blackpool, winning 4-0 to book their spot in the next round. If that clinical performance is anything to go by, the Grassy Park side is going to be hard to beat going forward in this competition.
In other action, Chukker Road-based Glendene United had to work even harder in their match against an unpredictable Lucky Stars from Gugulethu.
The Gugs side ran riot over their more fancied opponents, scoring the first goal of the match.
The side, however, couldn’t hold on to that lead as Glendene’s experience started to show. They went on to win 2-1, kicking Stars out of the competition.
Another Cape District side, Santos found the going even tougher when they took on Hellenic, also in Strandfontein.
A lot was expected from the People’s Team but they found Hellenic, also among the favourites, in an uncompromising mood.
The Greek Gods went on to win 5-0, leaving Santos players kicking their heels after another defeat in the early stages of the competition.
In what proved to be one of the toughest matches in the round, Old Mutual Academy overcame Ikapa Sporting 5-4 to advance to the next round.
The sides were evenly matched in all departments and the score-line is a true reflection of what went down as none really dominated the other.
The team to beat, however, is defending champions Masidlale Academy. They were, as usual, in good shape and showed just why they are among the best sides in this age group. Playing with the consistency that has characterised their football in the past few years, the Nyanga side booked their spot in the next round after overcoming Heideveld LFA’s Everton 4-0.
Masidlale, also champions in 2012 and runners-up in 2014, won last year’s competition in a spectacular fashion beating Bonteheuwel’s Sporting United 4-0 in the final at Athlone Stadium. That was their third final in four years, making them one of the most experienced in this competition. It also shows that they know how to win when it matters most.