South Africa: Battle Lines Drawn Between Gauteng and Santos – Safa-Burger King U19 Men’s Championship
The battle lines have been drawn between Gauteng and Santos who will lock horns in the final of the 2016 SAFA/Burger King u19 Men's Championship.
The titanic clash takes place on Sunday, 18 December at Phillipi Stadium in Cape Town.
Kickoff is at 15h00.
The match will be broadcast live on SABC 1.
Both sides finished top of the table in the group stages. They have played four matches each, winning three and drawing one each.
Gauteng has been the most prolific in front of goals, finding the back of the net nine times, while conceding two.
The inland team has five players who made it onto the scoresheet - two of them on hatricks.
Santos on the other hand has scored just five but have been solid in defence, letting in just one.
The coastal side's goals came from three players - one of them bagging a brace, while one of the goals was an own goal by Limpopo's Michell Ratau, the only own goal in the tournament.
Both sides have accumulated seven yellow cards each, but will have all their players available for the final.
Gauteng had an easy passage in the semi-final disposing of Mpumalanga 3-1.
"It looks easy but we had a tough match against Ajax in the previous round, so my boys were very tired and we faced a strong Mpumalanga side that gave us a lot of trouble but we managed to get the much-needed victory. We had to work for it because after we scored they equalised, and since we had never conceded in open play, I was worried as to how my boys will react because they have never been in that position. They showed a lot of character to restore the lead, so I am very proud of them," said Gauteng coach Tumelo Ndaba.
"We are now facing another difficult team, but its all in the mind. I have to remind my boys that we are playing against the Cape Town wind which we are not used to and the supporters, so it will not be easy. They need to be strong mentally and we can win it, and that would mean a lot because it is a great oppportunity I have been given to lead this team. It would be an honour to become the first coach from Gauteng to win this tournament. It is the first time I am coaching here, so I am really impressed with the work we have done, I would also like to thank Burger King for their great support. The standard is very good and there are some great players I have seen and this is where we need to start nurturing and building our national teams from because there is some awesome and raw talent."
Santos had to go through a nerve-wrecking penalty shootout against neighbours Cape Town City to book their place in the final.
"The boys are full of confidence. When the draw for the semi-final was conducted the boys were jubilant after being matched with Cape Town City. It was really a tough match but like we did throughout the tournament, we took it game by game. And beating them gave us more confidence going into the final. We are now playing against Gauteng and we all know it is going to be another tough battle, but we will have a good game plan for them. Also it is our last game, we have nothing to lose, so we might go out on a full attack," said Santos coach Keith Paulse.
As the only Western Cape representative left in the tournament, it has put the team under a little bit of pressure.
"Being the home team has its own little pressures, we have the fans on our side, we are used to playing in the wind and Gauteng is not, so naturally we are favourites. But I think we will overcome them and winning this would mean a lot to me and to the players. I hope that some of them make it to the next level of competition, and it would make me proud to see some go play for bigger clubs or the national teams. But this is a very good tournament, the standard is very strong. We have seen some very good youngsters here, the future is bright for our country," added Paulse.
Mpumalanga and Cape Town City play in the 3rd/4th place playoff at 115.
The coastal club will be without the suspended Safwan Hendricks who collected his third yellow card of the tournament in the semi-final against Santos.
Entry into the Phillipi Stadium in free.
The second edition of the Burger King-sponsored tournament has seen a change of the guard in terms of teams progressing to the business end of the competition
In the last edition, three invitational teams made it to the last four with two challenging for the trophy - Supersport United won the title, Ajax Cape Town finished as runners up, while Free State and Bloemfontein Celtic took third and fourth spots respectively
This year two provincial teams made it to the semi-final, and one will be contesting the final
Duncan Adonis (Cape Town City) is still the top goal scorer with five goals, followed by Uyanda Mbaziza (Mpumalanga) who has four
There have been 55 goals scored to date in 20 matches, an average of 2,75 per match
The fastest goal so far was scored by Adonis in just one minute vs North West
There were only two penalties in the tournament so far
One own goal was by Michell Ratau of Limpopo
Gauteng has scored most goals in the competion - 9
There were a total of 77 yellow cards, with two red cards in the tournament
Limpopo has collected the highest number of yellow cards - 9, followed by Northern Cape, Cape Town City and Mpumalanga on 8
KwaZulu Natal and Western Cape have collected the least - 3
Limpopo and Northern Cape have one red card each
Source: South African Football Association