While the soccer season has come to an end at the various local football associations (LFAs) across the city, MPCE is one of a number of teams who will need to keep on their soccer boots for the under-19 Premier Cup qualifications.
MPCE technical director and under-18 head coach, Zaheer Simons, 26, guided his side to the knockout finals, where they beat Standards FC through a penalty shootout at the Westridge Sports Complex, earlier this month.
It was the club’s second season in the Mitchell’s Plain LFA, and it was Simons’ maiden season in the tough-tackling football district.
“I’ve been coaching at a number of other LFA’s and I can say that you cannot come here and think that you are going to take over because you are an academy – this is a really tough league,” said Simons.
“Preparations for the final went well and we managed to play a couple of friendly games to polish up on our play.
“We played Ikapa in the quarter-final which was a great test for us. They beat us in the league and took the league title, but we beat them 2-1 in this knockout match.
“The week prior to facing Ikapa we just got knocked out of the Coke Cup against Eastern Rovers which meant the boys were really amped to get a win. We scored in the fourth minute of the game and they equalised with four minutes from time. But, the boys responded well and got the winner two minutes later,” he said.
MPCE faced Morgenster United in the semi-final and beat them 1-0. Simons said their clash against Morgenster was another tight affair, because the Morgie Boys were very physical and play good football.
“We were more prepared for Standards in the final because we played them in the Divisional Cup earlier in the season. We lost that match 2-1. Going into the final we knew what to expect from them and they played with a target man up front which we planned for,” said Simons.
“The first half was a bit scrappy but we applied pressure up front pretty well. We got the opening goal but conceded two minutes before half time. And, the second half was an open game with a lot of chances being created at both ends,” he said.
The match ended at 1-1 and goalkeeper Unathi Ngeshe stepped up to win the match for them. Simons said they practiced penalties and the players knew who needed to finish the job from the penalty spot.
His side competed in the Super League blue division and finished runners-up to Ikapa Sporting. And, now with the curtains closed at the Mitchell’s Plain LFA, they can fully focus on qualifying for the under-19 Premier Cup.
“Majority of the players in our squad are still under-16 so I think runners-up was a good finish. Our left back Dylan Stuart only turned 15 this year, and he’s definitely a name to look out for in the future,” said Simons.
“I’ll be taking the team to the Bayhill tournament next year and will look to follow up on the success of coach Gordon Witbooi, who won the Plate Section, last year,” he said.