The going gets tougher en route to Coke final

Rygersdal’s Thurlow Wood, left, and Hanover Park’s Samodien May, tussle for possession during their sides’ Coke Cup quarter-final clash.

If the potholed, water-filled streets leading to the Dunoon Sports Complex, near Killarney motorway, venue of a portion of the Coke Cup quarter-final matches, can serve as a metaphor for the road to the finals, then the remaining squads in the competition were in for a bumpy ride.

Getting there was half the battle won and after negotiating some treacherous roads in the busy township, the teams finally made it to the pitch, where the real battle was about to go down.

One thing was for sure: it was never going to be easy, especially in the clash between Hanover Park and Rygersdal in the senior division.

As expected, the match was a tight affair reminiscent of a previous encounter in 2017, when Rygersdal were crowned Coke Cup champions.

This time round it came down to a dreaded penalty shoot-out after the two sides played to a goalless draw. As is often the case with shoot-outs, it could have gone either way, especially with Gary Jazzman, a former Coke Cup winner with Jordan Callies, in goal for Hanover Park. However, Rygersdal shot stopper Carlyle Davids produced two excellent saves to deny Hanover Park and give his side a 5-4 victory.

Sunday’s quarter-final showdown also marked the first time in Rygersdal’s history that the first team and under-18 sides both progressed to the semi-finals at the same time.

Rygersdal goalkeeper Carlyle Davids clears the ball during his side’s Coke Cup clash against Hanover Park, at the Dunoon sports complex, on Sunday.

The situation was all too familiar for coach Gershawn Coetzee. They’ve been there before and he had witnessed first-hand the pendulum swinging the wrong way. In 2018, Rygersdal were knocked out in the quarter-finals, and, says Coetzee, “I was part of the squad and I remember the penalty shootout as if it was yesterday.”

The following year, during his first season as coach, in 2019, his side were knocked out by Crystal Palace in the quarter-finals.

Thankfully, the soccer gods smiled kindly on his side as goalkeeper Davids calmly took up his position between the posts and did what was required to secure victory.

“The match was always going to be a boxing match. Toe-to-toe, punch-for-punch. We were denied by the woodwork and both teams defended with their might,” Davids said.

“We knew that the match was going to be tightly contested and whoever was going to score first would have the upper hand,” said Coetzee,” who has had a long involvement with the club. Over the years, he has played for Rygersdal on three different occasions, along with spells at Tramway FC and Cape Town Spurs. Taking over the coaching reins when chairman Justin Asher suggested it, was a no-brainer, he said, as he’s long been part of the club’s first team set-up.

Rygersdal goalkeeper Carlyle Davids clears the ball during his side’s Coke Cup clash against Hanover Park, at the Dunoon sports complex, on Sunday.

“Team manager David van der Merwe and myself have known each other for more than 25 years, we were teammates at Tramway FC and it’s always good to have older players in the squad as this brings leadership to the younger players.,” he said.

“We have built a strong squad, mixed with experience and youth. We have managed to keep the team focused and together throughout a start-stop season,” he said.

Happy to walk away with the win but quick to put the result behind them, Coetzee and co will have their work cut out when they face champions Woodlands in the semi-finals.

In other senior action, Dynamos FC beat Juventus 2-1 and Clover FC beat Lion City 4-1.

In the women’s division, Spurs WFC beat FC Tafelzucht 1-0; Dangerous FC beat Milano Ladies 4-2 on penalties; Vasco won 2-1 against RV United and Shosholoza FC beat Ikamva Ladies 2-0.

In the under-18 division, Rygersdal beat home side Dunoon YSA 1-0; Hellenic FC beat Cape Town Spurs 5-2 on penalties; Ubuntu Academy beat Bazuka United 3-1 and Cape Town City beat Ulana Academy 1-0.