Blackpool to defend Knockout Cup

Salt River Blackpool goalscorer Zaheer Stellenboom, right, gets away from marker Vincent Matare of Santos.

Blackpool’s season has been like a rollercoaster ride with all the highs and lows.

But despite their low-key start to their Super League campaign at the Cape District Football Association (CDFA) and mixed results throughout the season, Blackpool still has a chance to lift the Knockout Cup again.

Team manager, Igbal Kasker, said the team struggled to find their footing at the start of the season because they lacked experience.

Blackpool remedied those shortcomings, beefed up the squad and are situated comfortably out of the relegation zone, in ninth position.

At the weekend, they fought back from a two goal deficit to beat Santos FC 3-2 in a league encounter, at the District.

Denzil Fortuin pulled one back early in the second half before former Milano United and Cape Town All Stars attacker, Ganief Stellenboom, had a moment of brilliance when he struck a volley from 35-yards out into the roof of the net.

Stellenboom’s brother, Zaahir, secured the victory when he scored the third goal.

“The game was really tough because it was difficult to play in the strong wind.

“We had a goal dissallowed in the first half, and they went 2-0 up into the break,” said Kasker.

“Even though we were down, we were still creating goal scoring chances in the opening half and their goalkeeper made some good saves.

“At half-time we told the boys to continue to play as they did in the first half, and work for the early goal in the second.

“We knew once we get that goal, then Santos would play under pressure,” he said.

Kasker said this season three teams will be relegated from the Super League instead of two.

Bottom of the table South End FC are sitting on 10 points and Blackpool are on 24.

With five games remaining for the bottom three teams and with the tight point difference, Blackpool can’t get too comfortable in their final four league matches.

“Battswood was relegated from the third division last season and will compete with us in the Super League next year – that’s why a third team needs to be relegated,” said Kasker.

“We struggled in the first half of the season because we tried to play with more youngsters.

“But, they struggled and that’s when we decided to bring in a few experienced players to ensure we stay in the Super League.

“Last season we finished mid-table but won the Knockout Cup and are defending our title.

“We beat Greenwood 1-0 in the final with Moosa Stellenboom finding the back of the net,” he said.

Last week, Blackpool beat Clarewood in their knockout quarter-final clash, another match which tested the character of the players.

While the rest of the club’s teams have done well to remain competitive in their respective divisions, their under-10 side have shown they are a team for the future.

The under-10 team are unbeaten in the league and are still in contention for their Knockout Cup.

“Our Super League team are through to the semi-final and are scheduled to play Wolves.

“If we win that match then it’s possible we could face Greenwood again in the final.

“On paper, Greenwood look to be favourites for the Cup because they have a strong side and won the league with six games to spare,” said Kasker.

“We beat Clarewood 4-1 in the quarters.

“It was a tough match because we were down to 10 men and were trailing 1-0 at the break.

“But the boys kept pushing and we managed to score four goals,” he said.

This weekend will be a repeat of last year’s Knockout final when Blackpool host league champions Greenwood in a league encounter.

“Even though the league is already decided, we are still fighting to survive so we’ll be going all out in this match. Our aim is to get at least a point from this game, so a draw will be like a victory for us.

Greenwood has nothing to play for in this match so hopefully we can get the maximum points,” said Kasker.