Academy View: Young Bafana's road to the Under 18 Coke Cup Final

Young Bafana
Young Bafana’s U18 coach Carlo Krieling encounters how his side fought their way to the upcoming Coke Cup final against Hout Bay

We began our Coke Cup journey on the 23rd of July in the round of 128 against Hasco United out in Nyanga. After a disappointing 1-1 draw against FN Rangers the previous day, it was important to bounce back immediately, and Hasco were not very resistant as we thumped them 7-0.

Two weeks later, in the round of 64, we played against Standards in Mitchells Plain. The day before, we played Fishoek in a must-win encounter for both teams as we each needed to keep our chances alive in Cape Town Tygerberg U18 Super League and we won that match 2-1.

The next day,  we had to play against a team that was not fixtured like us the day before. The match proved an evenly contested affair and the sides headed for the break at 0-0. After a series of interchanges in the second half, we got the break in the in the 60th minute courtesy of a free-kick. And even though we opted for a cautious approach thereafter, we went five at the back, and we managed to get the second goal and won the match 2-0.

For the round of 32, we were out in Grassy Park for a match against Wesley United. We didn’t know much about them besides that they are a mid-table team in Cape District U18 LFA league.

The atmosphere in this round was different compared to the previous rounds and it officially felt like we were in the Coke Cup. Credit to the sponsors, Coca-Cola, for creating a great atmosphere for the players as well as the supporters.

Before the game started, we discussed tactics and I told them how I expected them to play and also reminded them that I expected them to win, but Wesley were always going to prove tricky. They stunned us and took an early lead 10 minutes into the match.

However, we managed to fight our way back and our persistence paid off shortly before half-time as we equalised through a penalty. I made a few changes at the break and they proved effective as we went on to score twice in the second half and won the match 3-1.

In the round of 16, we were up against Milano United in a very intense and testing fixture. It wasn’t a game of many chances and the match headed to a penalty shootout as both sides failed to score within the regulation time. We won the penalty shootout 4-1. I was thrilled with this win because this is where I could sense the change in atmosphere and I could see that the players also started believing that they can go all way.

A week later, on the 10th of September, we were out in Mitchells Plain Sports Complex for the quarter-finals against Trinitarians. Again, we conceded first but managed to fight back as we headed for the break at 1-1. Despite dominating possession and creating numerous opportunities, we failed to make the most of our dominance and we were made to pay harshly as they managed to beat the offside trap and regained their lead in the 60th minute.

We made two more changes and fiddled around with our formation and this paid off as we grabbed a stoppage-time equaliser and forced the game into a penalty shootout. And once again, luck was on our side, as we managed to win 9-8 in the shootout.

The semi-final was played at Avonwood Park 15 days later against JL Zwane in what was once again an electrifying atmosphere. They were brimming with confidence as they were sweeping aside teams throughout the Coke Cup. Even though we went into this game wearing the underdog tag, we could see we could see early on that we were the superior team and it was no surprise when we went 1-0 up within the opening 10 minutes. The lead lasted for about 50 minutes, match duration is 60 minutes, and then they got their equaliser. 

For the third consecutive match, the outcome of the game was decided on penalties and guess what… we are in the finals after winning 6-5 on penalties. 

With only a few days until the final where we will face Hout Bay, we are working tirelessly with the help of our German interns. We’ve also played some friendlies against stronger opposition and also spent a lot of time doing tactical analysis and video analysis.