Milano United’s under-17 side will shift focus back to their league and knockout cup, after they were eliminated in the quarter-final of the Engen Knockout Challenge by Ajax Cape Town, at the weekend.
They were drawn into Group A of the tournament alongside last year’s finalist, Atlantic Nacional, hosts Vasco da Gama and Jordan Callies from Manenberg. Head coach Byron Hendricks – a former Santos and Maritzburg United Premier Soccer League (PSL) player – assembled a talented group of youngsters who excelled on the big stage.
The Kinnes kicked off the tournament with a bang on the A-field against Nacional, when attacker Chadley Richards hammered the ball past last year’s goalkeeper of the tournament, Abdud-Daiyaan Abrahams, in the second minute of the game.
Their high tempo game and work ethic did not go unnoticed and their performance against Nacional made them early favourites.“For every game we prepare the same way. We don’t change our playing style according to who we are playing. Nacional were finalist slast year but we approached them the same way as any other team,” said Hendricks.
Milano beat Nacional 3-0 before playing to a goalless draw against Vasco, later in the day.
On Saturday, they thrashed Jordan Callies 8-1 – in the highest scoring game at the tournament – to top Group A, and played last year’s champions Ajax in the quarters.
And, in their clash against the Urban Warriors, the Kinnes used these qualities along with their physicality to keep Ajax on the back foot during the first half of their clash.
However, Ajax playmaker Sonwabile Mfecane – who was awarded the Player of the Tournament – unlocked the Milano defense with a goal from 25-yards out. Riyaaz Koopstadt got their second goal to earn Ajax a 2-0 win.
On Sunday, Milano finished their Knockout Challenge campaign against Avendale Athletico. They played to a goalless draw, and lost 8-7 to Avendale on penalties.
Besides being in the running of the under-18 league title in the Mitchell’s Plain Local Football Association (LFA) and the Knockout Cup, they are still contenders for the Coke Cup and are through to the last-32.