Umqhele overcome the odds to win the Engen Knockout Challenge title in Durban

Umqhele High School overcame the odds to win the 2016 Engen Knockout Challenge Durban title; they beat tournament favourites Royal Eagles 1 – 0 in the final.

This High School team of youngsters beat Durban Tigers, White City and Cherrians FC with two scored draws on the road to the Engen Knockout Challenge Championship Final at the Moses Mabhida Sports Complex in Durban on Sunday 10 July 2016.

Ndumiso Hlele scored the only goal of the game for Umqhele in the first ten minutes of the final and despite a marauding Royal Eagles side, Umqhele held onto their lead to clinch the 2016 Engen Knockout Challenge Durban Championship title.

Umqhele finished second in their Group with two draws and a 3 – 0 over Durban Tigers, however it was a 3 -0 against White City that spurred the team from Umqhele High School to believe in themselves. Umqhele advanced to play Cherrians in the semi-finals.

With a few minutes left on the clock in the game against Cherrians the Umqhele coach, Sithembiso Ntuli pulled a masterstroke when he substituted his star keeper Lethu Hadebe for Wandile Zuma.

Zuma had not even touched the ball tournament match action when the final whistle sounded, however he proved his worth when the dreaded penalty shootout loomed. Zuma saved three Cherrians penalties to give his team a place in the Championship final.

Hadebe went on to keep a clean sheet in the 2016 Engen Knockout Durban Final and earn his team the Championship title and a place in the Engen Champ of Champs later this year.

Lethu also won the Goalkeeper of the Tournament award for his exploits leading up to and in the final.

The semi-finals results lined-up as follows; AmaZulu 0 Royal Eagles 2 and Cherrians (2) 0 – 0 (3) Umqhele High School.

Despite finishing on the losing side in the final, Siyabonga Ngcobo of Royal Eagles was named as the Player of the Tournament.

Duncan Crowie, the Engen Knockout Challenge national convenor of selectors said, “The selectors watched Ngobo throughout this tournament and we were impressed with his calmness under pressure, his reading of the game and his ability to turn defence into attack.”

The other individual award winners are:

· Referee of the Tournament – Phumlani Qwabe

· Goalkeeper of the Tournament – Lethu Hadebe (Umqhele High School)

· Defender of the Tournament – Siyabonga Ngcobo (Royal Eagles)

· Midfielder of the Tournament – Gaxa Sanele (Golden Arrows)

· Striker of the Tournament – Nqoba Mdladla (AmaZulu FC)

· Top Goalscorer of the Tournament – Thamsanqa Nombika (AmaZulu FC)

· Coach of the Tournament – Justice Mtshali (Royal Eagles)

· Fair play Team of the Tournament – Umqhele High School

· Player of the Tournament – Siyabonga Ngcobo (Royal Eagles)

Engen’s Group Sponsorship Manager, Brad Bergh said, “I am delighted at the high level of competition seen throughout this tournament.

The Engen Knockout Challenge provides South Africa’s top talent with a stage to showcase their skills to leading scouts. The journey to stardom beckons for many young footballers, for these players their journey starts here.

The winners of the regional Engen Knockout Challenge events will battle it out in the Engen Champ of Champs later in the year to determine the overall national champions.

Engen is proud to be a part of the development of these young future football stars, further contributing to the realisation of their dream of being signed professionally.”

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