Following a hugely captivating final, Clapham High School were officially crowned the 2017 COPA Coca-Cola champions after defeating Dr JL Dube 2-1 at the Mangaung Sports Complex in Bloemfontein on Saturday. Clapham High, the Mamelodi Sundowns academy, were the champions back in 2015.
After an exciting and grueling season, the action culminated thanks to a fittingly spectacular final that captured the hearts of the locals that came out in their numbers to witness the best U-15 players that South Africa has to offer, through this renowned youth international tournament.
The hosts, Qalabotjha Secondary School from the Fezile Dabi district in the Free State could not get out of the round robin phase following a tough battle against the other 8 Provincial champions. On the day of the final however, glory belonged to Gauteng’s Clapham High, who outshone the runners-up from KwaZulu Natal in all departments on a sunny afternoon in Mangaung’s famous township of Rocklands, home to Premier Soccer League Club, Bloemfontein Celtic.
Clapham’s journey towards the finals started when they defeated Bastiaanse Secondary from the Western Cape. The team coached by Isaac Shai, the former Mamelodi Sundowns and Bafana Bafana left winger, eventually secured their place in the semifinals after finishing on top of the standings in their group, similarly to Dr JL Dube High.
Thato Matli, captain of Clapham who scored the winning goal in the final, was one of the standout players during the National Finals and finished the three-day tournament as the top scorer.
National U-17 coach Molefi Ntseki was one of the many scouts that kept a close eye on this season’s talent and action and he was present over the three days at the National Finals. Amajita’s coach, who also fails from the Free State province, was impressed by the talent on display during the course of the Nationals.
Phindi Phiri, the Marketing Assets Manager at Coca-Cola South Africa, congratulated the winning team for their fantastic display. “Clapham High School worked tirelessly, showcasing a great deal of team work, perseverance and camaraderie within their team, which eventually led to them being victors for 2017. We’ve witnessed great football during the three days of the tournament and the level of consistency and showcase of football development at this level, was pleasing. At Coca-Cola we remain committed and pride about the investments made on the youth of this country. It is through projects such as the COPA Coca-Cola that we are still able to achieve our objectives of promoting an active healthy lifestyle through sports participation and provide a platform for grass roots sports development”.
COPA Coca-Cola is a global initiative that gives millions of young football players and fans the opportunity to come together and celebrate their passion for football, as well as a chance to realize their greatest potential by living an active healthy lifestyle.
The top three schools in 2017, will receive prizes to the value of the below figures in the form of stationery, training equipment and upgrades to the school
Winning school – R80, 000
Runners up – R50, 000
3rd place winners – R45, 000
3rd / 4th Play off
Benny’s Sports School (Limpopo) beat Charles Morgan (Eastern Cape) on penalties
Clapham High (Gauteng) 2-1 Dr JL Dube (KwaZulu Natal)