This year’s pulsating Selati Cup Final, sponsored by RCL FOODS, ended in a heart-stopping penalty shootout which saw the heroics of the defending champions’ goalkeeper help his side defend and lift the trophy again – an unprecedented feat in the history of the tournament!
The defending champions, Boschfontein FC, went on the offensive as soon as the referee blew the whistle to get the ball rolling at the packed KaMhlushwa Stadium in Mpumalanga on 2 June 2019. They launched an attack on the goalmouth of their nemesis, Langeloop Blue Crane, within seconds of play. But Blue Crane players were having none of it… they reciprocated by taking charge of the ball possession. Their nifty footwork mixed with cool-as-a-cucumber posture drew “oohs and aahs” from fans while giving Boschfontein footballers a headache. The frustrated defending champions resorted to rough tackles.
Unperturbed by aggressive tackling, the Blue Crane boys stuck to their carpet football style – reminiscent of the samba soccer skills associated with the likes of Brazil’s greats Ronaldinho and Ronaldo – and went in search of an opening goal. Nippy striker, Cebo Msane, bamboozled and tormented the defending champions’ defence with his artistry. But they could not find the net. Instead of going for a kill at the opportune moment, they held onto the ball for a long time and sometime dilly-dallied too much. Boschfontein also missed a few opportunities to take the lead. Overall, the first half, which was a spectacle of skills with a drought of goals, belonged to Blue Crane.
The second half got off to a scintillating start, with Blue Crane once again seeking that elusive goal. Boschfontein’s goalie produced a brilliant save three minutes into the second half. This galvanised the Blue Crane players to bombard the penalty area of the defending champions, who formed a Wall of Jericho around their goalmouth which proved exceedingly difficult for the attacking team to breach. Despite a sustained assault, the wall remained impenetrable and no divine intervention was forthcoming for Blue Crane.
Sensing a nerve-wrecking penalty shootout, which is akin to a Russian roulette at times, was imminent, Blue Crane players intensified their offensive, even launching volleys from a distance. The dying moments of the game were characterised by more and more attacks. But when the referee blew the final whistle, it was still zero all. Blue Crane would rue their plethora of missed opportunities as the match was to be decided on penalties, which some call a Lotto. Boschfontein had an ace up their sleeve – a feared goalkeeper who has become something of a legend for his knack of stopping penalties. And he did not disappoint! “Bhukudu”, as the goalie is fondly known in this part of the world, crushed Blue Crane’s dreams when he saved two penalties to send his team and fans into a frenzy of excitement and celebration!
The defeated Blue Crane side could only look in melancholia and reflect on what could have been, had they converted their many chances into goals. For them, it was a matter of so close yet so far!
The Selati Cup awards a cash prize of R100 000 to winners and R60 000 to runners-up. Once again, the Selati Cup produced magical moments. “There is always excitement around this tournament. It is completely community driven. It is about youth development and gives them a platform to showcase their talent. Great talent has come out of this (event) over the years that the Selati Cup has been running,” said Derek van Niekerk, RCL FOODS Sugar Director.
RCL FOODS Statement