Saturday, March 29, 2014

KZN schools compete in the Danone Nations Cup for a chance to play football in Brazil

Twelve schools will be contesting the under-12 Danone Nations Cup KwaZulu-Natal provincial finals on 29th March, at the Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu, KZN. The winning school will progress through to the national finals, with the ultimate winner going on to represent South Africa at the Danone Nations Cup world football finals in Brazil later this year.

 Emmanuel Mkhize, team manager of Siphumelele Primary School in Pinetown is happy his school has once again qualified for the provincial finals. Last year they went all the way to the national finals and they are hoping to do so again, and possibly win the national title this time.  With the support of the teachers, who ensure the players are at practice on time, this could well become a reality

“The team is looking good; they play very well as a united front. I have been watching them closely during games and I can safely say that the team is looking much better and stronger than last year’s team.  However, we just need to tighten up our defence,” he said.

Siphumelele will be fielding a totally new team this year, made up of players who also play for local clubs. “I asked the club coaches to help me select the top players,” Mkhize said. “They made good selections, which is one of the reasons why the school has won all games they have played in the tournament so far this year.”

Another advantage this year, Mkhize believes, is the fact that there is a new coach, Mr SC Ndwandwe. “He has brought a different style of coaching to the team. He allows the boys to express themselves.”

According to Mkhize, he is expecting tough competition at the provincial finals where the number one school from the respective regions will be competing. “We have been preparing the boys physically and psychologically. They are fit enough to compete at the next stage and have a better understanding the game,” he said.

If Mkhize were to single out a key player in the team it has to be the goalkeeper, Siyabonga Mkhize. “He has been excellent in all our games, he made the most impressive saves and I believe he is the next Itumeleng Khune.”

As for preparation for the provincial finals, Mkhize said they are continuing doing what they have been doing as there’s no point in changing a winning formula. “We do need to tighten up our defence, though.”

One of the schools up against Siphumelele at the provincial finals will be first time provincial final contenders, Siyenzele Primary School. Their team manager and coach Lindelani Sibiya said the team is motivated and excited to have reached this level of the competition. “Last year we were knocked out in the cluster level,” he said.

The most challenging part about coaching at this level, according to Sibiya, is the fact that you are dealing with different personalities, and even though they are still at a tender age there are still individual personalities that often clash. “As a coach I need to find a balance and be able to accommodate everyone in the team,” Sibiya said. “It’s difficult but doable, when you have the love and passion for soccer that I do.”

Sibiya has a completely new team this year, and even though they have the same coach, they take instructions differently. “What I have noticed with my team is that they take too long to enforce action in a game. There’s no fire during the first half, they bring it on in second half, that needs to be rectified,” Sibiya said. “They need to be fired up as the game starts and score goals to take the pressure off and defend in the second half.

Games begin at 11am on Saturday, 29 March with the final kicking off at 2.30.
Competing teams:

Zithuthukise Primary
Maqumbi Primary
Mthethomusha Primary
Indawana Primary
Machibini Primary
Watersmeet Primary
Nkosiyethu Primary
Ithaka Primary
Sinaye Primary
Ndongeni Primary
Siphumelele Primary
Siyazenzela Primary

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