It took a historic, lengthy penalty shootout to determine the champions of the 2018 Solly Malatsi (SM) Legacy Foundation tournament at Madiga Junior Chiefs sport grounds in Ga-Dikgale on Sunday.
Makotopong Giant Aces FC beat Zora FC 9-8 on penalties following a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes of intense battle. A combination of clinical penalties and some brilliant saves by both goalkeepers meant each side took 13 penalties until Zora FC missed their 13th shoot out. Both teams showed no sign of exhaustion despite playing their second matches of the day following some bruising semi-finals earlier.
Giant Aces secured their spot in the finals by beating Makakanka Rekaofela, coached by the tournament organiser Solly Malatsi, 1-0 in a game that was dominated by some tough tackling and combative play. Giant Aces scored early in the second half and stopped every attack Makakanka threw at them. Zora FC who impressed many with their collective work ethic and possession of the ball pipped the hosts Madiga Junior Chiefs 1-0 through a deflected free kick.
The battle between Makakanka and Madiga Junior Chiefs for the third spot was settled by a solitary goal from Makakanka’s right back Del Pierro Makwela who finished off a great team move.
The final match was graced by Orlando Pirates legend and former Bafana Bafana striker, Jerry ‘Legs of Thunder’ Sikhosana who was impressed with the exceptional talent he witnessed on the day. He said “There is really great talent here. This is the place where rough diamonds are and with proper coaching and opportunities many of these players can do well in professional ranks.”
Malatsi was humbled by the success of the tournament: “My logistics team and I are proud to have delivered yet another successful tournament to promote the beautiful game of football. We thank all the sponsors for their resources and for believing in our vision. We also thank the teams for delivering entertaining football with lots of goals. We are humbled by the massive attendance of the crowd and we are truly grateful for our partnership with Polokwane Observer for the incredible coverage which is helping to grow the stature of our tournament. There were football enthusiasts who came from as far as Ga-Matlala, Giyani, Thohoyandou and Ha-Mamaila to watch the finals after reading about the tourney in Polokwane Observer.”
Individual prizes went to Peter ‘Bitso’ Raphokwane as the goalkeeper of the tournament, Khutso Maluleke as best defender, Latti Mohlolwa as best midfielder, Thabo ‘Yayo’ Ramalepe as top goal scorer, Lucky Rabothata as overall best player, Matima Mathosa as best supporter of the tournament and the Chairman’s Flair-Play Award went to Zora FC.
Story and photos: ENDY SENYATSI