The weather gods were kind to the 6000 fans packed into Erica Park in Belhar for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Metropolitan under 19 Premier Cup, and they weren’t disappointed
In the presence of various dignitaries, including Western Cape MEC for Safety and Security, Dan Plato and SAFA vice-president, Mandla ‘Shoes’ Mazibuko, Metropolitan Brand Executive, Belinda Faulkner declared the tournament open.
The ceremony commenced with a march-past by each of the 32 competing squads, followed by exciting performances from a local traditional dance troupe and the Ashwin Willemse Oriental Marching band, which had the crowd screaming their appreciation. The biggest cheer of the night was reserved for the magnificent fireworks display that illuminated the Cape Flats sky in spectacular fashion.
“This tournament is an integral date on the South African football calendar, specifically with regard to bridging the gap between youth and senior level and it is through initiatives such as Metropolitan’s partnership with Bayhill United that has seen this event grow into a flagship occasion over the past 24 years,’ said Mazibuko.
An enthralling occasion was crowned with the main match of the evening in which last season’s finalists, ASD Cape Town Academy drew 1-1 with Orlando Pirates in a top of the table Group A clash.
Both teams went at each other from the first whistle and just when it seemed they were going to cancel each other out, Brendan Fernandes scored a screamer from 25 metres to give ASD the lead with four minutes left on the clock.
However, the young Buccaneers showed their mettle to level matters two minutes later through Luyanda Mthembu to secure a deserved two points (competition rules award two points for a score draw).
In matches played earlier in the day, Stars of Africa maintained their 100% record with a 4-0 win over Morgenster United to go clear at the top of Group B, while host club Bayhill United went down by a single goal to Tuks, who moved up to second place, in a thrilling encounter.
Swallows of Port Elizabeth caused a minor, yet well deserved upset with a single goal victory over their more illustrious namesakes, Moroka Swallows to move to the summit of Group C.
Meanwhile, Group D appears to be a fight for top spot between Golden Arrows and Cape Town Academy, who beat Berea Albion 1-0, while Arrows came out 2-1 winners against Platinum Stars.
Mamelodi Sundowns failed to move level with Glendene at the top of Group E after being held to a 0-0 draw by Harmony Academy, and in Group F, Santos joined Phillippi United at the top of the table after beating Mpumalanga Black Aces 3-0.
Sundowns’ Tshwane rivals Supersport United had no such problems, despatching the School of Excellence 2-0 to remain atop Group F, three points ahead of Crusaders while Ajax Cape Town maintained their impressive start to the campaign with their second win on the spin, 4-0 against Aces Academy to move within a point of securing qualification from Group H.
The action continues on Saturday with the completion of the group phase in the morning followed by the first of the knockout rounds, involving the 16 qualifiers from their respective groups at 15h30.