Schools champions crowned

Excelsior's Zewhan Has in action during his side's semi-final against Ravensmead.

The Belhar side had a decent run in the competition, winning four, drawing one (before winning on penalties) and losing only one of their six matches in the competition.

In fact, their only defeat in this campaign came against the same Steenberg side which beat them 2-0 in the group stages.

Slotted in Group G alongside Blue Downs’s Malibu, Steenberg and Lansdowne’s Groenvlei, Excelsior had a winning start to the competition beating the Blue Downs side 1-0 before they were stopped in their tracks by Steenberg.

To their credit, however, the side bounced back strongly to beat Groenvlei 3-0 in their last group match.

That win also saw them qualifying for the quarter final against Ocean View, whom they beat 1-0 to set a semi-final date against Ravensmead.

And, the Belhar side had to dig even deeper in order to overcome a stubborn Ravensmead side in the semi-final. The two sides had a long and bruising battle where neither was prepared to give up and the match had to be decided on penalties.

Ravensmead missed two of their four spot kicks while the Excelsior side converted all of them to win 4-2 to book their spot in the final against Steenberg.

Having beaten Excelsior 2-0 in the earlier stages of the competition, Steenberg went to the final as slight favourites to lift the trophy.

However, it soon became clear that the Belhar side had learnt something from their previous game, as they were a different side going to the final.

Both sides made their intentions clear in the early stages of the final, frequenting each other’s defensive thirds almost at will.

That continued throughout the match but the Belhar side slowly got the grip of the game, and dominated their opponents with their hard running approach.

One goal in each half was enough to hand victory, and the winners’ trophy, to Excelsior.

Steenberg coach Clive Biegnaar admitted that they lost to a better side on the day. He also noted that his players did well under the circumstances.

This, he said, was because the first time they played Excelsior, in the group stages, they only had 10 players and, in the final, they played with 11 players and no subs.

“We were able to beat them despite having a man short. Going to the final both teams had just played their semi-final matches a few minutes earlier, so that did have an effect on the way the players performed in the final.

“Having said that, however, I think the players played good football and showed that they wanted to win the competition but, in the end Excelsior proved to be the hungrier and the more decisive,” he said.

Biegnaar also noted that his side have learnt valuable lessons from the competition and, as a result, will bounce back stronger next year.

“Yes, I am going to lose four players who are in matric right now but, other than that, the core of the team remains, going forward.

“There are also exciting 16 and 17-year-olds coming through. We will definitely be the force to be reckoned with come next year,” he said.