Juventus’ dream of conquering the mighty Maimane Alfred Phiri Games (Map Games) came crashing down when they were booted out of the tournament in the round of 16 by fellow Alex team Grandiose FC.
Grandiose’s 1–0 win via the boot of Lebohang Sekgoto sees them advance to the quarter-finals of this lucrative tournament which has an eye-watering R175 000 in prize money for the overall winner of the tournament which finishes on 4 August.
Buoyed by his men’s play in the last round of 32, Juventus club owner Leonard Sithole had confidently predicted that his team was going to go all the way to win the tournament.
“I have assembled a very strong side which I am confident will go all the way to win this tournament,” he had told Alex News after their round of 32 match.
“Today’s performance was nothing but just a taste of things to come.”
Although Juventus was missing one of its key marksmen, Celani Shabangu, who single-handedly demolished a gritty Alexandra Gunners in the last 32 round match with a brace of goals, they put up a brave fight but struggled to find the back of the net.
Shabangu, whose nickname is Bulldozer as he constantly forces his way through defenders, was not available for play as he was said to be away in Swaziland for a trial.
Juventus managed to hold Grandiose to a goalless first half as both teams were evenly matched but Grandiose managed to breach Juventus’ ‘Great Wall of China’ to score in the dying minutes of the game.
Juventus then shifted into another gear in search of an equaliser but it was in vain as Grandiose threw all their men into defence to protect their lead.
“If Celani was here, I can confidently tell you that I would have won this clash,” lamented Sithole.
“He’s my bulldozer and he would have bulldozed his way to score one of two goals. I still curse his departure at a critical time. I have no choice but to work hard and assemble another strong team next year.”
The Grandiose coach was not available to give his analysis of the game.
Other results of the Map Games last 16
- Comeboys 3 Skomboys 2
- JT Black Stars 2 Moretele All Stars 1
- United FC 0 Chego 3
- La Macia 1 The Rock 3
- Dalmany Young Chiefs 2 versus Newcastle Homeboys 2 (Chiefs won 5–4 on penalties)
- Juventus 0 Grandiose 1
- Baroka 1 Mighty Birds 2
- Mamba X1 1 Soweto Super United 1 (United won 5–4 on penalties).