EC U21 players look to shine at tournament

Eighteen U21 players are set to the represent the Eastern Cape in the clash of the provinces in North West when they take on other SAB League U21s selected from the across the country later this month.

The province’s SAB Leagues’ finest this season were hand-picked by Safa during the official play-offs held in Butterworth at WSU Ibika campus where they fought for their places in the squad.

Buffalo City utilised a central database for its players who could be tracked from back to their U13 days. The boys from BCM include Ongeziwe Matika, Lukhanyo July, Olwethu Makeleni, Anga Jacobs, Nkosana Mzini and Anathi Xesi.

SA Football Association Buffalo City’s youth development committee chairperson Thembinkosi Simanga said they are very serious about development and it is evident that they are working hard to put the province on the map.

“It was clear again during the U21 trials, because we are occupying six spots out of 18. We recently won the Premier Games twice in a row where all the U19s from different regions met to compete for the cup.”

Matika, 19, who is making the squad for the second time in a row, said he would work hard to make sure he comes back with a contract to play professionally.

“In the past I have been selected to play in the U15, U17, U19s, and now I will be playing in this team for the second time,” he said.

Matika believes he is on the right path to glory. “Because of these priceless experiences I have been getting, I am going to make it to top flight football.”

He said listening to his coaches was the best thing he could have done.

“I always took whatever they said very seriously and I believe that they played a huge role in me getting these calls for so long,” he said.

The gifted player, who started playing soccer at seven years of age but only took his game seriously when he was about 11, said he practised twice a day in preparation for the big matches.

“Last year I played in the Varsity Cup and I gained a lot from that experience. There was a lot of pressure because there was a crowd and the games were televised so we played so we could not make silly mistakes.”

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