This could be the year of the underdog


The draw for the 28th edition of the Metropolitan under-19 Premier Cup took place at the Newlands-based Sports Science Institute of South African, last week.

The Cape qualifiers, including reigning champions Glendene United, now know who they will come up against when the tournament kicks off at Erica Park, in Belhar over the Easter weekend.

Kewtown’s Avendale Athletico, Mitchell’s Plain Clinic of Excellence (MPCE), Hellenic, Maties Football Academy, Southampton, Stephanians Ottery, Old Mutual Academy, Beaufort West’s Juventus, Cape United, Greenwood Athletic, Project Playground (PPG) Langa, Milano United and Atlantic Nacional will join Premier Cup hosts Bayhill United and Ajax Cape Town as the Cape’s representatives in this year’s Premier Cup.

As it has historically been the case in this tournament, these sides will lock horns with invited teams from around the country and beyond our borders. Last year’s competition saw United Kingdom’s top flight side Swansea and Zambian outfit Zesco United taking part in the competition.

If what happened on the field of play in last year’s competition repeats itself, where underdogs showed little or no respect for their more fancied opponents, then 2016 should be an even better year for the poorer rated sides.

Based on last year’s results, no team can be considered out and out favourites.

One needs to look no further than teams like Parkwood’s Southampton FC, who edged out Vasco da Gama. Also, Avendale Athletico and Khayelitsha’s Mighty United went through ahead of last year’s finalists JL Zwane and Santos.

The so-called favourites should consider themselves warned : don’t underestimate the so-called unknown teams.

And, 2014 champions Ajax will know better as they learnt, first-hand, what the underdog is capable of doing. The young Urban Warriors were unable to book a spot in last year’s knockout stages of the competition, thanks to the performance of the then unknown PPG Langa side.

Now Glendene, as the defending champions, should be aware that they can’t make that mistake if they want to defend their title.

They were, after all, once that underdog that caused all sorts of problems for the big guns. Their side is improving each year they take part in this competition. In 2014, for instance, Glendene had a decent tournament, going all the way to win the plate section.

They made it clear back then that their aim was to challenge for the title, come 2015. And that’s exactly what they did, winning last year’s edition. Now, the pressure is on them to produce the performance that saw them being one of the best-organised and most exciting sides in last year’s competition.

* Defending champions Glendene United are in Group A alongside Harmony Academy, Southhampton and Beaufort West’s Juventus.

Group B: Hosts Bayhill United, Jomo Cosmos, Hellenic and newcomers, Mitchell’s Plain Clinic of Excellence (MPCE).

Group C: Supersport United, Amazulu, debutants Cape United and Greenwood Athletic.

Group D: Khayelitsha’s Mighty United, who are also making their maiden appearance at the tournament, Atlantic Nacional, former champions Chippa United and Bidvest Wits.

Group E: Ajax Cape Town, Milano United, Gauteng’s Shumba FC and Durban’s Riverside Football Academy.

Group F: Avendale Athletico, University of Pretoria, Bloemfontein Celtic and Ikapa Sporting.

Group G: United Kingdom side Swansea United returns for the second consecutive year and are slotted in alongside Stephanian Ottery, who last took part in the tournament 20 years ago, PPG Langa and Scotland’s Glaswegians.

Group H: Old Mutual Academy, Zambian side Zesco United, Maties Academy and Mamelodi Sundowns.