With blue skies and sunny conditions, three days of non- stop football action ended in proud victory for local Durban football club, Golden Arrows as the U17 team claimed the Champions title of the Engen Knockout Challenge 2012.
Kick off to the final match of the day saw Golden Arrows and Hammersdale based Junior Aces kit up, ready to battle it out for the coveted title.
The match progressed at an attacking pace for the most part with both teams having to defend the others spirited onslaughts.
Moments before the half time whistle, a golden moment presented itself when an Arrows cross into the box was fumbled by the Junior Aces goalkeeper which was pounced on by young Arrows player; Xolani Mdalala who put the ball in the back of the net for the first goal of the tournament final.
During the second half, spectators were on the edge of their seats, as both teams gave of their best with Junior Aces putting up an impressive fight back in an attempt to get the much needed equalizer.
Midway through the closing half of what was to prove to be a thrilling match, the pressure swung back in favour of Arrows which finally paid off with the awarding of a penalty. Determined not to squander their opportunities the young Lamontville team took the initiative to extend their lead through the talented Mdalala who put the match firmly in favour of the Durban South team.
With the game called, the Golden Arrows players broke into song as they celebrated their hard fought 2-0 win and deserved title of being the 2012 Engen Knockout Challenge Champions.
Not only did Arrows receive a magnificent floating trophy and R10 000 in tournament prize money but also received individual performance award recognitions for Striker of the Tournament, Sbusiso Ntuli, Midfielder of the Tournament and Player of the Tournament, Sonke Ntuli.
SAFA President of the Ethekwini Region, Alpha Mchunu commented: “SAFA is proud to be associated with a tournament of this calibre as it not only sets the standard within youth Football but also raises the bar for amateur football soccer tournaments as a whole. Engen’s involvement is truly inspiring and we hope to grow the tournament from strength to strength, unearthing young talent within the greater community.
Among others, AmaZulu’s Director of Coaching Clive Barker and President of the local LFA, Bryan Robertson were present on the side lines to show their support for the teams over the weekend.
“The Engen Knockout Challenge bears testament to organisation’s commitment to and investment in South African youth football development and continues to encourage players to bring hearts, determination and passion to the field of play,” commented Mr Brad Bergh, Group Sponsorship Manager of Engen Petroleum.
“These young talented participants are the winners at the end of the day and while the remaining 15 teams may not have raised that championship trophy, they should all hold their heads up high and continue to live out their football dreams as they have many exciting years of competitive play ahead of them.”
Engen now looks ahead to the Gauteng leg Engen Knockout Challenge, which will take place between 7th to 9th September at Marks Park, Emmarentia.
All football lovers are invited to come along and witness South Africa’s future football stars in action as they do battle for the coveted title.