’Plain derby to set the tone at * -19 soccer showcase

SHIFAAN RYKLIEF

Premier Cup hosts Bayhill United, have been grinding over the last two months in order to leave their mark at this year’s under-19 Easter tournament – which kicks off today at Erica Park, in Belhar.

The Rocklands-based side will be led by former National First Division (NFD) player, Mark Faro – a young coach with fresh ideas – and will kick start their Premier Cup campaign against neighbours, Mitchell’s Plain Clinic of Excellence (MPCE), tomorrow at 12.30pm.

Faro’s task will not be an easy one as they were drawn into one of the toughest groups at the tournament, which also features Hellenic FC and Jomo Cosmos in Group B.

“I watched Bayhill United last year but they didn’t win a single game, and exited in the group stage already. And, our aim for this year is to make it through the group stage,” said Faro.

“It won’t be easy, but we will prepare the team as best we can. I know the Hellenic side very well because I watched all their games last year, and they basically have the same team.

“MPCE are in a similar boat as us, where they also recruited players and will be looking to get through the group stage. We don’t know much about Cosmos, but we know for certain the style that the teams from Gauteng play.

“They will always look to play the quick one-two short plays, but I think if we can remain compact against them, then we can finish them off. Also, they can hold onto the ball for long periods of time so it will be important for us to look after the ball once we get the possession,” he said.

Faro hung up his boots following stints with Hanover Park FC, FC Fortune and Chippa United. The former NFD midfielder is a good reader of the game which allows him to adjust his tactics meticulously from the sideline.

“Before my role at Bayhill United, I coached Zeesha United at a Local Football Association (LFA) level. I helped them to win promotion to the regional third division, and took them to the ABC Motsepe League’s second division.

“One of my tasks at Zeesha was to rebuild the team, and that experience came in hand here at Bayhill United as we had to build a team from scratch. We decided to bring in 10 invitational players which we watched during the playoffs, earlier this year.

“And, the other 10 players in the squad are made up of youngsters from our club. Only four of them played in last season’s Premier Cup, the other six are from our junior under-17 team,” he said.

Bayhill United will face Jomo Cosmos on Friday, at 5.30pm; and Hellenic FC on Saturday, at 9am in their final group game.

“We are not going to the tournament afraid and to park the bus.

“We will play an attacking brand of soccer and will always look for the goals.

“But, at the same time, we’ll be cautious against teams like Hellenic because we’ve got to respect what they are capable of,” said Faro.

Last week, Bayhill United beat Bishop Lavis 2-0 in a friendly match, with goals coming from Tristan Johnson and Monray Domingo. Prior to that, they beat Milano United 1-0 and drew 1-1 against Ikapa Sporting.

“Our main objective against Lavis was to try out certain combinations. And, against Milano we wanted to see how well the squad jelled.

“The boys did great against Milano because it’s always difficult for a new team to click especially when you bring in new players. The boys stuck to the instructions that we gave them and did well in the midfield where Milano had the upper hand.

“I don’t think there are any favorites in this tournament and I’ve already told the boys that it’s anyone’s cup,” he said.