pictures: fuad esack
Hellenic made it past, arguably, the toughest group of the qualifiers, Group F, which had powerhouses Hout Bay United, Glendene United and Ikapa Sporting in matches played at the Bayhill Legacy fields in Mitchell’s Plain, at the weekend.
The group was eventually won by the Milnerton-based outfit who collected maximum points after winning their three matches.
That meant Hout Bay, Glendene and Ikapa had to fight for the second qualifying spot. And there was nothing much that separated the sides as they all finished on three points each.
The goal difference had to decide who would join Hellenic in the tournament proper. It was, in the end, the Hout Bay side that went through.
Ajax Cape Town also went through after topping Group G with eight points.
They collected those points after recording two wins and a scoring draw in their three matches.
The Young Urban Warriors joined Grassy Park United, Greenwood Athletic, Milano United, Black Birds, D&G Orient, Nova Nacional, Alana Academy, Blue Downs Spurs, PPG Langa, Silver Spurs, Hellenic, Hout Bay United and Everton as Cape Town representatives in this year’s tournament proper, to be played in Erica Park, Belhar, over the Easter weekend.
In this weekend’s round of qualifiers Ajax found themselves in Group G alongside Everton, Porto and Mitchell’s Plain Clinic of Excellence (MPCE).
The side started their campaign off on a high note after beating MPCE 2-0 in their opener. They were, however, held to a one-all draw against Porto before beating Everton 2-1 to book their spot in Belhar.
The tournament will celebrate its 30th anniversary over the Easter weekend this year.
The under-19 showpiece, formally known as the Metropolitan Premier Cup, came into existence in 1989 when Bay City Ramblers hosted the competition for the first two years. In 1991, Bay City Ramblers and Sparkhill FC combined to form Bayhill.
The inaugural competition took place at the Rocklands sports ground in Mitchell’s Plain before it moved to Erica Park in Belhar.
Matroosfontein FC were the winners while Hellenic and Ajax Cape Town have been crowned champions six times. SuperSport United were the last team to win backto-back titles after they annexed the title in 2016 and 2017.
International teams have been invited to the event, among these English club Swansea City and Zambia’s Zesco United.
The “Bayhill” has been graced by a number of Bafana Bafana and PSL stars such as Rivaldo Coetzee, Ayanda Patosi, Fagrie Lakay, Moeneeb Josephs and Cole Alexander.
Former PSL players who played in the annual event included Matthew Booth, Lance Davids, David Kannemeyer, Bradley August, Nasief Morris and Benni McCarthy.
Alexander said he always dreamt of playing in the competition.
“It was always the tournament I looked out for, whether it was as a spectator or player. Saalman King (previously Graham King) was my community hero when I went to watch the competition. To win the Bayhill with Ajax Cape Town in 2008 was one of my fondest memories. I am grateful to have participated in the competition a few times which set me up for the PSL,” he said.
Morris, who now coaches Ikapa Sporting in the ABC Motsepe League, said his fondest memory was winning the tournament twice with Santos.
“Being player of the tournament in the year 2000 was something special,” he said.
Tournament director PJ Williams said they would like to make this year’s tournament a celebration.
“My expectation is for the tournament to take place this year after we did not have one last year due to the drought. We are hoping that the public will come to the party as before, because without them the tournament would not have been where it is today.”
Williams said a highlight was watching McCarthy and Morris play.
“I remember handing over the trophy to Benni when he was named player of the tournament. Nasief, on the other hand, was just as good,” he said.
Additional reporting by Keagan Mitchell.