It was a Second and fourth place finish for the Free State schools in the national finals of the Sanlam Kay Motsepe Schools Cup, that took place at the King Zwelithini Stadium in Durban last week. Louis Botha Technical High School from Bloemfontein finished in second place and Harmony High School (Virginia) ended in fourth place. This means that, of the R3.4 million in total prize money, R1.6 will go to the province, making it the second most successful province in the tournament, behind Gauteng .
This was Louis Botha’s first national final experience, losing 2-1 to Pretoria’s Clapham High School in the final. They breezed through the pool stages of the competition, beating Okiep 2-0, Eric Nxumalo 4-0, East High 1-0 and Ndamase 6-0 ending the pool drawing with Benny’s Sports 1-1.
In the quarterfinals they beat Mondale on penalties, after the scores were locked on 1-all at the end of extra time, followed by a 1-0 win over Rosina Sedibane 0 in the semis to get to the finals.
There were some individual honours for the team - Ofentse Motlhanke was named Goalkeeper of the Tournament, and coach, Prins Soni, was named the Best Coach of the tournament.
Louis Botha won R100 000 as provincial champions and an added R600 000 for second place overall and Harmony, the most successful school in the tournament to date, get R400 000.
Team manager, Norman Ngomba, says the standard of football at the national finals was exceptional. “The regional and provincial level was what we are accustomed to, but what we saw at the national finals was completely different, it took us by surprise,” he said.
The toughest game, according to Ngomba, was the final against Clapham. “They were so tactical and organised. They played with a cool head and even when we shut down their star, Percy Tau, they did not seem to flinch.”
The coach said they went into the tournament with the view of using it as a learning curve for next year.
“Our strategy was not to put pressure on the boys,” he said. “And our result was way beyond what we expected. It sure was a learning curve and we learnt something different from every school. For example, Rosina was a team that was united, they played simple football which worked for them, they play excellent one touch football; Modale High played a different style of play, they were more tactical, which is how I want us to be; and Clapham had everything, tactical and technical ability and experience. Their players belong to the Mamelodi Sundowns Academy and I believe they get a chance to play against the first team once a month, such experience is what we were competing against.”
Ngomba says that playing in front of Sundowns president Patrice Mr Motsepe, was something they will never forget. “All the players admire him, and the work that he is doing, not just for football but also in the arts and culture as well as in business,” he said.
He is also full of praise for Sanlam, the tournament sponsors. “I hope they continue to sponsor the tournament as they have added so much to it since they came on board in 2010. It has grown into a much sought after tournament. I now have insight into insurance and am definitely getting life insurance in the near future. I want to make sure that if something happens to me, my family is well looked after.”
The coach vows to be back again next year, and is already preparing the team.