Gauteng Province team was crowned as champions of the 2017 SAB U21 national championships today, after defeating defending champions USSA 4 -1 on penalties following a 3-all draw in regulation time.
The exciting final played at the Nike Football Training Centre, Soweto on Sunday, 30 July 2017, started in blistering pace as USSA went 2-0 up within the first 15 minutes through a Tshivhase’s brace. Tournament top-goalscorer, Yusuf Bunting saved the best for last as he scored his second hat-trick of the tournament through a goal in the 20th minute and then netting a brace in the second half of the game. He scored a penalty in the 53rd minute and a brilliant side-footer in the 59th minute.
There was a twist in the story as USSA levelled matters with 2 minutes left on the clock through a brilliant shot from striker, Bongani Mabena to take the game into penalties.
The penalties proved a bridge too far for USSA as they scored only one of their three kicks, meaning Gauteng won by only taking and converting four of the five allotted penalties through Loannides, Senwamadi, Tshoba and Mashiane, while USSA’s Lesibe’s penalty was saved, Makhene scored before Nkomo short wide for the game to end 4-1 in favor of Gauteng on penalties.
This was the third final meeting between the sides and all have been decided on penalties with Gauteng leading 2-1, the first two in 2011 and 2012 all finished in 1-all draws and were won 3-2 on penalties by each team USSA in 2011 and Gauteng in 2012 respectively.
This is the second title for Gauteng in their third final as they also won the 2012 edition and finished as runners-up in 2011.
Speaking at the tournament, Project manager: Better World Kalashni Narainsamy said that the 2017 edition of the SAB U21 National Championships was a resounding success and that the SAB’s partnership with SAFA continues to reap incredible results.
“ Today’s final was a great ending to a very exciting, action-packed tournament. As a brand, we are excited about what the future holds for the development of South African football, our partnership with SAFA continues to impact the lives of many young people through grassroot programmes like the SAB U21 National Championships. From the beginning of the tournament to today’s final, we are pleased with how we have played a role in the lives of these young men.” said Narainsamy
Meanwhile, in the earlier match Mpumalanga collected bronze for finishing 3rd after winning the 3rd/4th place play-off match against Western Cape by a solitary goal from the penalty sport in the second half to move to 9 goals. This is the third time Mpumalanga finishes third as they did it in 2011 and 2012.
Furthermore, 32 of the 250 + players were selected into the SAB U21 National Championship select team which was announced by coach Owen Da Gama.