Justice Matloga, coach of the Haggai Combined Private School’s under-12 soccer team has another title under his belt – the Danone Nations Cup Limpopo provincial trophy.
The Thohoyandou school took the title at the Limpopo provincial finals at Hoërskool Noorderland in Polokwane last weekend. The final game was called off because of adverse weather, but Haggai were declared the champions because they finished on top of the log in the round-robin phase.
Matloga was the coach at Benny’s Sport Academy and Development when the school first opened, and while he was there, that school won many trophies.
Winning the Danone Nations Cup with his new school, which he joined in 2015, is very special because, he points out, that this was the first time that these players had played in a tournament of this size and he was concerned about how they would handle the pressure.
“The team started off really slow and I thought they wouldn’t manage against other schools that had many years of experience in the Danone Nations Cup,” he said. “But a lot of people from the school came to support us on the day and it made the players more comfortable knowing that they had a great support system.”
Matloga singled out Hlonipho Nkosi as the player who made the greatest contribution to the team. He is small in stature, but has a great attitude, on and off the field, Matloga said. “He scored 6 goals in the 4 matches that he played. He has a great way of controlling the ball and executing scoring opportunities.”
Hlonipho hails from Thembisa and was recruited by Matloga’s Greenway Academy.
There is plenty of work ahead of the team before the Danone Nations Cup national finals in July. “We need to concentrate on the defence,” Matloga said. “We made mistakes at the provincial finals that could cost us a chance of winning the national cup.
“There is a lack of communication between the players that needs to be sorted out.”
Second place finishers, Kgwatlele, had arguable one of the best youngsters to come from this competition in a while and were to have met Haggai in the final match, which did not happen due to a downpour that happened just prior to the match which caused the pitch to become waterlogged. “We have heard that this year has seen many of the second place finishers beating the log leaders, but I was not too worried. We beat them 2 – 1 in the league, but their team relied on one player and we had a more balanced team. But it was not meant to be and we did not meet them again. However, I will try and arrange a friendly with them prior to the national finals. It would be a really good practice for my boys.”
The Sundowns scouts had a field day on Saturday with exceptional talent on display making it one of the most exciting Danone Nations Cup provincial finals this year. “Every team on the day had an exceptionally talented player,” said Ike Pula. “We have invited quite a few from today to attend training sessions with Sundowns. From there we will evaluate them and see how we can development further and from there we will invite them to trials.”
Limpopo Provincial Finals Results:
Game 1: Katang PS 0 vs Megoring PS 1
Game 2: Kgwatlele PS 1 vs Thapola-A-Nkona PS 0
Game 3: Haggai 2 vs Katang PS 0
Game 4: Megoring PS 1 vs Kgwatlele PS 4
Game 5: Thapola-A-Nkona PS 0 (2) vs Haggai 0 (3)
Game 6: Katang PS 1(1) vs Kgwatlele PS 1 (3)
Game 7: Megoring PS 0 (0) vs Thapola-A Nkona PS 0 (2)
Game 8: Kgwatlele PS 1 vs Haggai 2
Game 9: Thapola-A-Nkona PS 1 vs Katang PS 0
Game 10: Haggi 3 vs Megoring 0
Final: Haggi vs Kgwatlele PS: Match was cancelled due to bad weather.