Shining Stars Football Club beat City Pirates of Grahamstown 1- 0 in a tense final at a packed Glenville Celtic Sports Complex on Sunday, 9 July to clinch their maiden Engen Knockout Challenge Port Elizabeth title.
A goal by Vuyolwethu Dlabango early in the first half sealed the result for the Motherwell-based champions. Dlabango found the back of the net with a low-drive after intercepting a defensive clearance.
Over an actioned-packed weekend, 16 of the best under-17 youth teams from around the Eastern Cape contested the 2017 Engen Knockout Challenge, Port Elizabeth leg.
In the first semi-final City Pirates beat PE Sundowns 5-3 in a penalty shootout. In the second semi-final Shining Stars beat Friendly City FC 1 – 0 to book their place in the final. On their way to the final, City Pirates knocked out the defending Eastern Cape Engen Knockout Challenge winners, Chippa United.
Anele Hashe of City Pirates was named the “Best Goalkeeper” at the end of the tournament. Siyabonga Masinda, development manager at Sakhulutsha Soccer Development Project in Grahamstown walked away with the individual accolade as the coach of the tournament. Masinda took part in the South African Football Association’s coaches B license workshop.
“City Pirates played very well, the boys deserve to be in that position,” said Akhona Akon who represented the MLFA at the challenge. “They were exceptional on the field and were unlucky not to walk away as Champions of ENGEN Tournament”, said Akon.
Likhona Mbhem of Shining Stars was named both the 2017 Engen Knockout Challenge Port Elizabeth “Striker of the Tournament and “Player of the Tournament”. Mbhem also won a one-year endorsement from Engen Knockout Challenge technical partners, Umbro.
Speaking after the final, the tournament’s convenor of selectors Duncan Crowie commended the players for the fine football on display over the three days.
“This past weekend scouts from SuperSport United, Mamelodi Sundowns, Ajax Cape Town as well as representatives from Prosport International were all seen at the Glenville Celtic Sports Complex. This is a clear indication of the expected player quality of this tournament,” said Crowie.
“I trust that the Engen Knockout Challenge will again launch the professional football careers of many of these budding talents,” added the former Santos and Bafana Bafana legend.
Engen’s Group Sponsorship Manager, Brad Bergh congratulated Shining Stars and City Pirates for playing in the final of the Engen Knockout Challenge Port Elizabeth.
“Both teams provided entertaining football in the final and I am delighted to have again seen an extremely high level of play throughout the tournament,” said Bergh.
Shining Stars, as winners of the Port Elizabeth Engen Knockout Challenge, will battle it out with other regional champions in the Engen Champ of Champs later in the year to determine the overall national champions.
“Engen is proud to be a part of the development of these young future football stars, further contributing to the realisation of their dream of being signed professionally,” added Bergh.
The other individual award winners included:
- Best Goalkeeper – Anele Hashe of City Pirates
- Best Defender – Mihlali Klaas of Shining Stars
- Best Midfielder – Sinenjongo Mkiva of Chippa United
- Best Striker – Likhona Mbhem of Shining Stars
- Player of the Tournament – Likhona Mbhem of Shining Stars
- Coach of the Tournament – Siyabonga Masinda of City Pirates
- Fairplay Team of the Tournament – St Georges
- Top Goalscorer of the Tournament – Thulani Mini of PE Sundowns
- Umbro Award – 1 Year Endorsement – Likhona Mbhem of Shining Stars
The remaining regional rounds of the 2017 Engen Knockout Challenge are as follows: –
Dates: – 14 – 16 July, 2017
Venue: – Moses Mabhida Stadium Sports Complex
Dates: – 28 – 30 July, 2017
Venue: – Grey College Sports Complex, Bloemfontein
Dates: – 04 – 06 August, 2017
Venue: – Marks Park Sports Complex, Emmerentia, Johannesburg