Spurs aim to impress at u -23 tournament

Beacon Spurs captain Grant Jacobs keeps Manenberg's Kyle Johnson at bay during their sides' GreenSmile Foundation u-21 quarter-final clash a fortnight ago.

The Beacon Valley-based outfit thumped South Peninsula Local Football Association-affiliated Chezmont Rovers 7-0 in their Safa-Cape Town Coke Cup round 256 match at Strandfontein Sports Complex, at the weekend.

The message was loud and clear: Spurs meant business.

However, team manager Llewellyn Vermeulen was quick to note that his players were not going let the weekend’s results go to their heads.

“It is going to be a totally different ball game in the under-23 tourney and we will take every game we play seriously,” he said.

Spurs kick their campaign off with a tricky encounter against hosts Kenpark on Friday night. That will be followed by a match against Stephanian Ottery on Saturday morning before taking on Nyanga’s Masidlale Academy later in the day.

A first or a second-place finish in their group would be enough to see the side qualify for the knockout stages. Vermeulen said getting out of the group “alive” was not going to be easy, and singled out Masidlale as posing the biggest threat to his side’s aim of topping the group.

“They are a good side with quick players who are capaable of playing the ball on the ground. They also have that ability to unlock defences.

“But, having said that, we have prepared well for this tournament and our players – most of them 16 and 18 year olds – have shown that they have that ability to get the team out of a tight corner. They are maturing beyond their age and, with that in mind, we will give Masidlale a good run,” he said.

“Our first match is important too. In order to set the scene for the rest of the tournament, we need to play good football early on and win our first game.

And, it doesn’t get more interesting than this, as we are playing against hosts Kenpark United.

“We’ve learnt that, in tournaments, you need to get off the mark quickly and score as early as possible because there’s no time to let the opponents score first, hoping to come back later,” he said.

Spurs didn’t play in last year’s competition and Vermeulen made it clear they want to go all the way to the final this time around. This, he said, was possible because they didn’t leave any stone unturned in terms of their preparations for this year’s competition.

“Besides,” he said, “we have quality players who have what it takes to do the job for us. Midfielder Shane Jacobs, 20, for instance, has been excellent in the engine room. He’s a match winner and that’s why it’s not surprising that we are getting enquiries about his services from other clubs.

He’s a special player. Of course, he is not alone. Claude Dreyer, who’s also been excellent for us in the middle, and many others have that ability to turn the game into our favour, irrespective of the circumstance,” Vermeulen said.

Meanwhile, Spurs also had a decent run in the Green Smile under-21 tournament in Manenberg a fortnight ago.

They qualified for the knockout stages of the competition after topping their group with six points, having won two and lost one of their three matches. They eventually bowed out of the tournament after losing 3-0 to Manenberg United in the quarter-finals.

The groups as drawn at the launch of this year’s Kenpark United under-23 tournament, earlier this month, are:

Group A: Glendene United, Arials, FC Manenberg and Everton United.

Group B: Crystal Palace, Grassy Park United, Bishop Lavis and Morgenster

Group C: Sunningdale City, Ikapa Sporting, Turfhall United and Stanturf

Group D: JL Zwane, Ashley Rovers, Woodlands United and Invincible Cravenby

Group E: Kenpark United, Stephanian Ottery, Masidlale and Beacon Spurs.

Group F: Milano, Trinitarians, RockAFellas and FC G Hotspurs.