Zenzeleni cries foul despite silver trophy in soccer tournament

School teacher Thembeka Mpungose stands next to the Zenzeleni Primary School U12 soccer team members. Team captain, Knowledge Masuluke holds the 2016 Discovery Soccer Tournament's silver trophy.

Zenzeleni Primary School is bitterly savouring the silver trophy it won as runners-up at this year’s Discovery U12 Soccer Tournament.

The tournament, which has been running for several years, is hotly contested by Alex primary schools and this year’s was reported in Alex News.

The final played at Three Square Sports Grounds on 2 November was rained out and was postponed to 9 November with Skeen Primary School emerging as the victors with a solitary goal scored in the first match.

In the replay, Skeen had to defend their one-goal lead with their lives after Zenzeleni piled on the pressure. Zenzelini managed to equalise but the goal was disallowed, which Zenzelini alleged was because of inept reffing.

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The school’s sports coordinators felt they would have won in extra time had the goal not been disallowed and also suspected age cheating by their opponents.

Sports coordinator of the school, Segkodiso Matsipa said, “We feel cheated. To add insult to this injury, suspected overage players helped our adversaries to win at all costs.

“This tarnishes the game, especially for young players who should be protected so that they can know their potential when playing against their own age mates and also encourage them to retain their love for the sport. There is a need for better reffing and control in the next tournament.”

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The unhappiness comes after a complaint was lodged with the South African Schools Football Association against Dr JL Dube High School following a McDonald’s U14 Schools League competition on 1 October at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville, Pretoria.

Claiming to take age cheating seriously, together with the department of education, the association appealed to anyone with facts and evidence of ineligible players to contact them on 011 403 2844.

Despite the complaint, Matsipa said the school would be back next year to claim what rightfully belonged to them this year and hopefully it would be on an even playing field.

Their success, he said, was despite the lack of sporting facilities which most other schools have, but his players had shown commitment and beat five other schools in the knock-out stages of their group heading to the finals.

Meanwhile, Skeen’s coach Thabang Mabilo was doubtful they would retain the cup next year as most of the players would have moved on to secondary school.

Details: Zenzeleni Primary School 011 882 8422.

Leseho Manala

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