ACADEMY VIEW: Young Bafana Follow on Twitter
The month of April was a real rollercoaster ride for Young Bafana’s U18’s. The month started off on a low, losing a friendly match vs Hellenic by 2:3. This was followed by a good bounce back in the last friendly before the Bayhill Premier Cup vs Glendene United. The match ended in a 3:3 draw which was a good result against one of Cape Town’s best U19 sides (2015 bayhill champions).
As much as the result was pleasing, the performance by the boys did warrant more. Nevertheless, before a big tournament like the Bayhill, the results are secondary to the performance as well as the amount of improvement displayed from a tactical perspective. We did a lot of team-building before the tournament as well (amongst others climbing lions head) to really unite the group of players to be a tightly-knit unit come the tournament.
For the duration of the tournament the boys were booked into a hotel in Pinelands which they shared with the U19 of fellow group D team Amazulu FC. Once again, this was an effort to unite the group but at the same time just to have the team together consistently for meals, physiotherapy, and video sessions.
The “in-camp” experience itself was one to treasure for the boys as they got a little taste of what it is like to be a full-time football player. Of course, the excitement for the tournament itself was all too evident and we were all too happy to finally kick off our first game vs Fishoek on the first day of fixtures of the tournament.
Fishhoek is an opponent that we have played many times in friendlies, tournaments and league matches so we were able to prepare very accurately and in detail from a tactical perspective. We had the better of the encounter in the first half where we managed to severely restrict the opposition with some very good, intensive and collective high pressing and counter-pressing as soon as we lost the ball. This meant we won a lot of balls back high up the field, from there we created several good goal-scoring chances. We didn’t manage to get one past the excellent Fishoek goalkeeper.
In the second half, our opposition grew more into the encounter and had the better of the exchanges. They didn’t manage to score either though and we ended the encounter with a fair 0:0 draw.
Our second match in the tournament was against newcomers Cape Town City FC. We knew before the encounter that the opposition would have some brilliant individuals in their ranks that can take a game away from you at any time.
We had prepared for this; however, an early blow was conceded when our opposition went one up from an early freekick. We managed to equalize before halftime, but a red card shortly before the break really put us on the backfoot.
After the break a moment of shear individual brilliance by PSL player Duncan Adonis made it 2:1 in favor of Cape Town City, they killed of the encounter with a 3rd goal to end winners by 3:1. Our final group-stage match ended with the same score line vs Amazulu, in this encounter we went all out for the win and conceded a couple of late goals on the counterattack.
Overall, going out in the group-stage of the Bayhill tournament was disappointing. Nevertheless, it must be said that it was an excellent achievement to qualify out of several hundred teams that enter the qualifying stages. We went into the tournament with the objective of gaining valuable experience for a squad made up in its entirety of U17 and U18 players. These players have learnt a lot from the experience and will come back stronger.
After the Bayhill, we faced the task of analyzing the tournament but at the same time putting the disappointment of the group stage exit firmly behind us. We played a friendly vs Norway Parks U18’s on the weekend after the tournament and ran out convincing 4:1 winners. This was encouraging as we played some really decent football in the encounter.
Our first match in the U18 super league was to follow vs raining ENGEN knockout-challenge champions Old Mutual academy. Old Mutual certainly ranks amongst the best U18 teams in the country and we displayed a brilliant performance deservedly beating them by 2:1 away from home.
This was an excellent start to the league which is the main part of our season. It was really encouraging to see the boys taking the Bayhill experience on the chin and showing great character to bounce back with a bang in the league.
Ultimately, that’s what development is about, take shortcomings as a learning opportunity and bounce back stronger. In that sense, I feel that the Bayhill tournament will serve as an excellent opportunity of individual and collective growth for the boys. We are hugely excited for the upcoming months tough week-to-week league action in the league.