A total of sixteen (16) football clubs entered the first ever under 19 youth tournament to be played at Mkhondo, a small semi-rural town situated in the Gert Sibande Region of Mpumalanga. The new cup tournament known as iNtokozo Under 19 Cup began on Saturday 01 December 2018 with the last 16 matches which were followed by the quarter finals on Sunday at Thandukukhanya, Mkhondo.
Football fans enjoyed the football displayed by the graduates of Mkhondo Development League many of whom are now playing in the Promotion and SAB Leagues. There was excitement in all the fields for fans watching a total of 26 goals scored in eight matches of the first round. The only match with no goals scored was between Total Football United FC vs Ajax Sweepers FC which ended in a 5-4 penalty win for Total Football United FC after both teams failed to score at normal time. There was disappointment from Mkhondo United FC players when they lost to Citizen FC without kicking a ball after they were disqualified due to lack of playing documents. The team did not have their government issued Identity Documents as per the rules of the competition which stated that players born in 1999, 2000 & 2001 should carry their ID and SAFA playing card.
The thunder and lightning disappeared after the match referee blew the whistle to end the match prompting some fans at the stadium to suggest that the lightning belonged to one of the clubs.
The players born in 2002 and below were required to use their playing cards from any SAFA Development League (u/15&u/17). There was little drama when a referee ended a match between Thembalethu FC and England FC in unfamiliar fashion with few minutes left at Masenkeni Stadium. Thembalethu FC was leading 3-2 in the dying minutes of the game against the visitors from Bilanyoni, eDumbe when the referee stopped the game due to lightning. He spoke briefly with the captains of both teams before calling off the match saying the lightning was dangerous, he did not want to wait to see if the lightning will pass or wait at the change room. The thunder and lightning disappeared after the match referee blew the whistle to end the match prompting some fans at the stadium to suggest that the lightning belonged to one of the clubs. The match had to be replayed the following morning with England FC winning 4-1 over Thembalethu FC to reach the quarter final.
In the first quarter final Total Football United FC won the Phola Park derby 2-1 against Comet Riders FC in a match which pitted two clubs with good dedicated coaches. The clubs are under the guidance of Thokozani ‘TK’ Hlatshwayo and Oliver ‘Mtukudzi’ Nkosi of Comet Riders FC who both worked together in taking Buhlebuzile Secondary School to the Kay Motsepe Schools Cup national finals this year. Two quick goals in the first half allowed Total Football United to control the match while also defending very well. Comet Riders FC got a consolation goal very late in the match giving them no chance of a comeback.
The quarter finals produced a total of eighteen (18) goals in front of a good crowd of sports fanatics at Mandla Magudulela Stadium. Six of those goals came from the thriller between KwaNgema based side Red Lion FC and the Mkhondo Promotion League 2018 champions PR Wanderers FC. Red Lion FC should have won the match but their defensive work let them down and allowed PR Wanderers to come back from the game after coming from behind from start to finish. PR Wanderers FC took their penalties very well to book a place in the semi-finals against Total Football United FC.
The visitors from eDumbe, KZN reached the semi-finals with a 2-1 win over Goodwill Promising FC. The team surprised everyone by playing without a coach and also travelled without a guardian to the games all the way from eDumbe. They will be back to play the semi-finals this weekend against Citizen FC who beat Junior United FC 1-0 in an exciting game which produced a spectacle finish. The game was beautiful to watch with both sides sharing the ball on the ground, creating and missing chances.
Citizen FC broke the deadlock through a well taken corner kick that Junior United FC failed to defend in the 2nd half. Junior United FC pushed for the equalizer throwing everything at Citizen FC until they forced a penalty when Citizen FC defender handled the ball inside the box with three (3) minutes left on the referee’s clock. The penalty was taken by a nervously looking Junior United FC player who ballooned the ball outside of the goalpost to the disappointment of his club and fans. The semi finals promise to be as exciting as the last 16 and quarter finals of iNtokozo u/19 Cup. Total Football United FC will take on PR Wanderers FC at 9am. Citizen FC booked a place in the semi-final against England FC to play at 11am on Saturday 08 December 2018 at Mandla Magudulela Stadium, Thandukukhanya in Mkhondo.