The 2017 Danone Nations Cup journey is almost at and end, with the nine schools that will be competing for the national title and, with it, the honour of representing the country at the competition’s world finals, identified.
The last of the provincial final tournaments – that of Gauteng – took place in Reiger Park last Saturday, and Vereeniging’s Arcon Park Primary School will join the eight other provincial champions, at the same venue, on Saturday July 1st for the national finals.
The winner on that day will be travelling to New York in September to play in the Danone Nations Cup world finals.
The Gauteng finals produced soccer of high quality, with more goals scored (45) on the day than have been seen at any of the other provincial finals this year.
A significant feature of the day was the presence of Reddam Park Prep School, a Bedfordview private school representing the Johannesburg Primary Schools Football Association, the body that organises soccer among the former model C and private schools in South Africa.
Reddam came up against the eventual champions, Acron Park, in their opening pool game and lost a thriller 3-4 in what turned out to be an elimination game. It was a pity because they turned out to be one of the best teams on the day and would have been worthy finalists.
Acron Park ended up unbeaten, beating Roseview Primary of Nigel 2-0 in the final and they will be back in Reiger Park at the national finals in a fortnight’s time.
Sam Nnete, Acron Park’s manager explained that this is the second time they have reached the provincial finals. They were there in 2014 and it didn’t go very well for them.
“We went back to the drawing board after that and began putting together a team that would get us to the nationals,” he said. “This is that team”
The school has a football academy attached to it that the boys play in, so they know each other well, which was a great help in getting them to the nationals, Nnete said.
“The hard work starts now. We only have two weeks to prepare for the nationals, whereas the other provinces have had longer. However, that is not a worry because we aren’t planning to make any changes or introduce anything new that would unsettle the kids.”
Their most difficult game at the provincial finals was the first game of the day against Reddam. “They were well prepared and organised and had some talented players,” Nnete said. “They were resilient and came back at us every time we scored.”
While Nnete understands that soccer is a team sport, he said three of his players were of particular value. “Our striker can score from outside the box and we have a solid back line. That bodes well for the nationals – they can both score and defend effectively.”
The tournament’s kit sponsors, Mille, ran a competition at the Gauteng finals during which the fans and players took part in a ‘shoot for goals’ competition. More than 50 pairs of Mille shoes were won, as well as loads of Danone products including Nutriday and Yogisip.
The National Finals will take place at Reiger Park on Saturday, 1st July, kicking off at 9.30am.
St Joseph’s Kulani 1-2 JB Marks Primary School
Florida Avenue Primary 3-0 Zenzeleni Primary School
Roseview Primary 1-0 Thembalethu Primary School
Reddam House Bedfordview 3-4 Arcon Park Primary School
Sunnyside Primary School 0-2 St Joseph’s Kulani
JB Marks Primary School 2-4 Thembalethu Primary School
Zenzeleni Primary School 0-3 Arcon Park Primary School
Roseview Primary 0-3 Sunnyside Primary School
St Joseph’s Kulani 2-0 Thembalethu Primary School
Arcon Park Primary School 3-0 Florida Avenue Primary
JB Marks Primary School 0-3 Roseview Primary
Zenzeleni Primary School 0-3 Reddam House Bedfordview
Thembalethu Primary School 1-2 Sunnyside Primary School
St Joseph’s Kulani 0-1 Roseview Primary
Florida Avenue Primary 0-2 Reddam House Bedfordview
Sunnyside Primary School 0-2 JB Marks Primary School
Final – Roseview Primary 0-2 Arcon Park Primary School