Eastridge star wins Bayhill player of the tournament award

Shuaib Martin

A polished performance by midfielder Shuaib Martin saw Cape Town Spurs winning this year’s Bayhill under-19 Premier Cup, after beating Stellenbosch in the final on Easter Monday.

Juninho Koopman and Simphiwe Mambane scored the goals for Spurs. The tournament was back this year following a two-year break due to the Covid-19 pandemic and eventual lockdowns.

It was clear from day one that football fanatics missed the beautiful game as they came out in their number.

The security personnel had their hands full as everyone wanted to be part of this year’s competition.

It was, however, the youngster from Eastridge who stole the show, as he made things happen for his side in the middle of the park.

He was duly rewarded for his performances, winning the player of the tournament award. That award was not really surprising as he is no stranger to winning things. In 2017, for instance, he was named player of the tournament in the Strandfontein under-13 competition.

Martin acknowledged that the road to the final was a tough one and winning the best player award was a sign that his teammates made it easier for him to play his normal game.

“This is a big tournament and each one of the boys brought their A game. It was always going to be difficult against Maties who are not really different from us.”

He also noted that his side started off slowly and got better as the tournament progressed. “We just wanted to make sure that we don’t concede a lot of goals. As long as we were scoring on the other side it was fine and we got better as we progressed.

His captain Litha Manzini, from Nyanga East, concurred, saying teamwork and communication saw them through.

“We started slowly but got better as the competition progressed. The boys did well under the circumstances. I think we were a better team in terms of quality and that’s because we were well prepared coming to this competition. The technical team did a good job,” he said.

Talking about the technical team, Spurs mentor Duncan Crowie was named coach of the tournament. He said nothing much has changed in the way they’ve been doing things, from the Ajax Cape Town days, including the training methods.

“Only the name changed, otherwise everything else is still the same. It was difficult for us in this competition, especially considering that our average age is 15/16 years. Winning this competition was important for the boys, they wanted to play here and excel. And, most importantly, all of them want to be professional players,” he said.

Spurs were in Group C alongside Panorama, Jordaan Calies and Hustlaz Academy.They topped the group with six points after winning two and losing one of their matches, scoring six goals and conceding one in the process.

They went on to beat Amalaw in the last 16, to set up a quarter final date with defending champions Highlands Park, whom they beat 1-0. They went on to beat Hanover Park 3-0 in the semis.