A collective effort, a healthy dose of confidence and an indominatable spirit saw the Northern Suburbs LFA-affiliated Trinitarians AFC storm into the final of the Kenpark United Arising Stars under-23 tournament, in Mitchell’s Plain, at the weekend.
Played over three days at Stephen Reagon sports field in Westridge, the tournament saw 24 teams fighting out for the top prize.
The Uitsig-based side impressed friend and foe with wins over Milano United, Rock A Fellas and FCG Hotspurs in the group stages. Even though they did not walk away with the trophy, the squad certainly lived up the the tournament’s motto “Arising Stars”.
They beat Grassy Park United, Manenberg’s Crystal Palace and Hanover Park’s Hotspurs en route to the final. Goalkeeper Lee Smith was in fine form between the sticks, saving two spot kicks in a nail-biting penalty shootout against Spurs.
However, Trinnies’ excellent run in the competition ended when they lost 2-1 to eventual winners, Mitchell’s Plain’s Morgenster United in Sunday’s championship final.
Trinitarians conceded only five goals in the tournament – the least of all the participating teams.
Team manager Marco Bennett was the first to congratulate the champions, saying: “The final could have gone either way as both teams showed good intensity and character. “We fought back after Morgenster opened the scoring. Our talisman, Rubin Jacobs, was a marked man but when he got the opportunity, he took it.
“Credit should go to Morgenster because we pressed for the equaliser but they defended well,” he said.
In other action, fellow Northern LFA affiliate, Invincible Cravenby also impressed, going all the way to the semi-final before losing 3-0 to eventual winners, Morgenster United
The Cravenby side was not really convincing in the early stages of the competition but got better as the tournament got to the business end.
They recorded a win, a draw and a loss in their three group-stage matches to book their spot in the last 16 against an exciting and uncompromising Ikapa Sporting side. Both sides had a serious go at each other and Cravenby had to pull out all their tricks to record a 6-5 victory to proceed to the quarter-final.
The odds were stacked against the northern suburbs side as they came face-to-face with the highly-rated Milano United.
Playing in cold and rainy conditions on Sunday morning, the sides had a serious go at each other. They were evenly matched in all departments and very little separated them. Cravenby, in the end, emerged victorious, winning 4-2 on penalties after playing to a 1-all draw.
They were now only one step away from reaching the final. Before that, however, they had to deal with Morgenster.
As it was the case throughout the competition, the Mitchell’s Plain side came out guns blazing. They immediately took the game to their opponents and it became clear early in the match that it was going to be a long day for Cravenby. Morgenster went on to win 3-0 to book their spot in the final.
Coach Moses Ficks said his side did well considering it was their first appearance at the competition.
“The competition was tough and, in the semi-finals, Morgenster showed why they were so highly rated.
“Beating Milano 4-2 on penalties in the quarter-finals, was a great highlight for us,” said Ficks, a former Milano player and formerly coached by his counterpart Desmond Crowie.