By CHRIS TOTOBELA
Junior football took centre stage last Sunday with their much anticipated top-of-the-table clash. Reigning champions Sophia Stars locked horns with the sleeping giant City Pirates.
Pirates were the powerhouse of junior football before a sudden decline in their form lost them their dominance. Sophia Stars, on the other hand, have stormed on to the scene spitting fire, beating everyone and winning every trophy on offer.
Football fans came in droves to witness this local derby that had all the ingredients of good football.
First up was the U13 encounter that got the crowd on their feet as both teams dished out excellent football, scoring freely. Both teams went all out trying for maximum points – but it was the 10-man Pirates side that emerged victorious, narrowly edging Sophia Stars by four goals to three.
Just an hour later, their under-15s clashed in another entertaining thriller eagerly awaited by revenge-hungry Sophia fans.
Both teams started the game like a house on fire with attacking football.
The Sophia keeper was called into action only five minutes into the game. He found himself one-on-one with the Pirates winger, who had broken clear wide on the right, and came up with a brilliant diving save to keep his side in the game.
Sophia Stars created their own chances, but failed to make them count.
The midfield battle intensified with both teams stringing together good passes, while playing with flair – to the delight of the Dlephu crowd who applauded every good move.
Pirates took the lead only six minutes away from the halftime break after Ayabonga Sandi’s rocket wide from the left found the far corner and left the Sophia keeper for dead.
Pirates took their slender lead into the halftime break.
Sophia Stars came back very strongly in the second half and pushed their opponents while creating good scoring chances – but Pirates’ goal minder stood firm and dealt well with every attempt.
Pirates nearly doubled their lead when their speedy right winger found himself in acres of space and took a good shot. It was pushed away by the keeper – who felt the sting of the shot and immediately went down with a wrist injury, but later stood up to carry on.
Sophia kept on knocking and were nearly rewarded when a well taken free kick was pushed over the cross bar by the Pirates keeper.
When the referee blew the final whistle, it was the end of a great game of football – and a good advertisement for Makhanda’s youth talent. This was a major upset for Sophia who were expected to ease past their opponents.