The first ever iNtokozo Under 19 Cup which began on World Aids Day 1st December 2018 wrapped up with the crowning of Total Football United FC as the first ever champions of the inaugural youth cup in the Gert Sibande Region of Mpumalanga. Total Football United FC defeated rivals Citizen FC 3-0 at match played at Mandla Magudulela Stadium, Thandukukhanya, eMkhondo on Friday 14 December 2018.
The final pitted two of the longest serving clubs in the under 13, u15 & under 17 Thandukukhanya Junior League at Mandla Magudulela Stadium. The weather started playing hide and seek when it was time for the final becoming windy, dropping lightning here and there accompanied by dark clouds. The players observed a moment of silence before kick off in honour of former Mkhondo LFA & Gert Sibande FA 3rd Deputy President Miss Khanyi Ndlangamandla who passed away on the 12th December 2018. The heavens soon happened for the game to kick off to the relief of supporters in the stadium.
The tournament was dubbed the “Graduates Cup” because the majority of players came from the group that started playing in the Mkhondo Development League in 2013 under the Mkhondo Local Football Association. The final was played at a high pace with both teams looking fit and prepared for the final game of the first youth tournament in the region. The match had a fair number of chances for both sides to capitalize but the finishing was disappointing. Citizen FC created a few chances that may have helped them to control the game but poor finishing let them down. The chief culprit was Lungelo ‘Dukuduku’ Nkosi (18) who failed to capitalize on a defensive error from Total Football United FC early in the match. Total Football United FC had the most number of chances to score but were also let down by poor finishing in the first half.
The club created five clear scoring chances but the attackers fluffed all but one which they converted via Mzwandile ‘Vieira’ (18) in the 25th minute of the 1st half. The lanky striker beat the Citizen FC defence with his pace to put himself one on one with the keeper before coolly slotting the ball home to lead 1-0 in the 1st half. Former Comet Riders FC striker Mfanufikile “Benzema” Nhleko (18) had the most chances to kill the match in the first half but lack of composure worked against him. The match could have gone to half time with big margins instead of the 1-0 score line. The 2nd goal of the match came in the 2nd half after Total Football United FC heaped pressure on their opponents using their traditional long balls to penetrate their defence. The long balls worked in getting a set piece as soon as the 7th minute.
They received a corner kick which Citizen FC failed to defend allowing defender Sihle ‘Boykie’ Sangweni to tap in with a black flip the 2nd goal for Total Football United FC. The game took a turn with Citizen FC getting more attacks but the tight defence marshalled by Sphamandla “Moto” Simelane stood firm. Citizen FC substitute Siyabonga Thela (17) who had a good tournament missed a sitter when he ballooned the ball from under the goalposts over the bar 18 minutes into the 2nd half. Total Football United FC got their 3rd goal to kill the game in the 35th minute of the second half when the defence failed to deal with a corner which fell into Mfanufikile ‘Benzema’ Nhleko heading the ball into the net to lead 3-0 against their bitter rivals. Total Football United held on to the 3-0 lead to become the inaugural champions of iNtokozo Under 19 Cup.
“This tournament was made for all the development coaches to measure their work over the years since we started the development league in 2013.”
The clubs were presented with their prizes after the match by Mkhondo LFA Deputy President Mr Mduduzi ‘Johnny’ Nkosi assisted by the chairperson of Mkhondo Women Football Committee Mr Thembela Mdluli. The champions Total Football United were the big winners taking home a full Hummel playing kit, a trophy, gold medals and R5000 cash for becoming the first ever champions of iNtokozo Under 19 Cup. The runners up Citizen FC received silver medals, two (2) match balls and R2000 cash. The 3rd place prize was shared by PR Wanderers and England FC with each team receiving bronze medals, a match ball and R500 cash each. The prize was shared because after the 3rd place match was disturbed by the rain when they played on Saturday 08 December 2018, the supposed day for the final.
There was also individual prizes for the participants. The goalkeeper of the tournament award went to Thokozani “Malema” Mbatha (19) of Total Football United FC. The young talented keeper conceded only one goal in the tournament. Lungelo ‘Dukuduku” Nkosi who has been at Citizen FC since under 13 division won player of the tournament as captain of his side. His coach Sandile ‘Msandi’ Kunene won coach of the tournament. The trophy for the top scorer was not awarded as there were two players with three (3) goals each i.e. Mxolisi “Sexy” Shongwe of Total Football United FC and Lungelo “Dukuduku” Nkosi of Citizen FC. The tournament will be back again in the 2nd half of 2019. The organisers said they will look for dates during the school holidays to allow clubs from outside Mkhondo Local Municipality to come compete in the tournament.