Thaba Jabula Secondary School of Klipsruit, Soweto, have tasted success in the Sanlam Kay Motsepe Schools Cup competition in the past and they are hungry for more of the same.
This may be the year for the Johannesburg North district winners. They have come through the cluster and district phases of the tournament safely and are eagerly looking forward to the Gauteng regional playoffs later this month and hopefully get to compete in the provincial finals taking place at the Giant Stadium, Soshanguve, on 2 August. “In 2011 we managed to reach the national finals, and finished in third position winning R500 000. Since then it has been tough,” said team manager and coach, Cassius Mpati. “Every year the competition gets harder as teams keep improving, but that is what soccer is all about, you have to consistently develop your players’ skills sets.”
This year is different, explains Mpati, as they will be strengthened with the inclusion of five academy players; Emmanuel Letlotlo, Thabiso Gwabavu and Katlego Rallele who play for the Kaizer Chiefs u19 team, while Shane Phaswane and Xoliswa Promise are part of the Moroka Swallows academy. “All are influential players who share their experiences with the team,” he said. “This year we decided to focus on converting chances into goals and it has worked well. I believe we have good quality players that know and understand the team’s vision. They are determined to win and make the school proud.”
But the difference this year does not stop with the inclusion of key players! The school has solicited the help of Arthur Zwane, a Kaizer Chiefs ex player and now the coach of their development side. ”We need to pull out the big guns for the inter districts, we will be competing with academies that have better training facilities, qualified coaches and have well-nutritioned players,” he said.
Mpati believes that academy schools have the advantage over the other schools. “We can only train twice a week, and the grounds that we use are not up to par. They train twice a day and live and breathe soccer. They are physically and mentally fit and know how to play soccer analytically.”
The coach has been following the progress of Clapham High School since their success in last year’s Sanlam Kay Motsepe Schools Cup and he recognises them as the favourites again this year. “Playing against them will be a good challenge for my team; we have a chance of becoming the first school that beat them in this tournament.”
Thaba Jabula has not lost a game to date, including a 2 – 0 victory over JHB Secondary School, which is significant because many of their players also belong to Academies, says Mpati.
The 15 Gauteng district finalists will be in action on 24 and 25 July to determine the 8 schools that will participate in the Sanlam Kay Motsepe Schools Cup provincial finals on 2 August.