21 March, 2023
Stars of Africa Football Academy have been crowned Pirates Cup men’s champions for 2023, while Tuks Ladies took the inaugural women’s title as the tournament drew to a close at Marks Park Sports Club on Tuesday.
Goals from Khutso Mogano and Gugu Dhlamini helped the ladies from Tshwane secure the crown in the women’s competition after beating the University of Johannesburg (UJ) 2-1 in the final, while Stars of Africa triumphed 5-4 on penalties after playing to a goalless draw at full-time against Orbit College in the men’s final.
The road to the final served up some high-level excitement, with a total of 20 Under-21 teams returning to contest the knockout rounds on the closing day of this year’s tournament.
UJ Ladies overcame Wits University in the first women’s semifinal, winning 2-0 to advance to the final, where they met Tuks Ladies, who demolished North West University with a 3-0 scoreline in the parallel fixture.
The two losing semifinalists contested the 3rd place playoff, where Wits emerged victorious after Lechia Oliver and Sakhi Mnomiya each found the net to secure the bronze medal.
In the men’s competition, the action began with eight Round of 16 fixtures, where tournament hosts Orlando Pirates were among the teams advancing to the Last Eight, following their 1-0 victory over TS Galaxy, which came courtesy of a goal from Thulani Mngoma.
The quarter finals however proved to be a step too far for the emerging Buccaneers, who put on a valiant fight in going down to East Rand Excellent Soccer Academy (ERESA), with the game finishing at 2-1.
The two finalists each had to endure the uncertainty of a penalty shootout at least once en route to the final, with Orbit College suffering a minor bump in their quarterfinal clash against UJ which finished with the two teams deadlocked at 2-2, meaning the game had to be decided via spot kicks, where they triumphed with a 7-6 scoreline.
They faced a different test in their semifinal against Tammy Tigers, but prevailed to clinch a 3-2 win, setting up a thrilling encounter with Stars of Africa.
The Johannesburg-based football academy also had to endure the nerves that come with a shootout on their way to the Last Two, but were able to defeat their Round of 16 opponents Limpopo School of Excellence 4-1 on penalties.
The rest of their results leading to the final were more straightforward, as they beat both Panorama and ERESA 3-0 in the quarterfinals and semis, respectively.
Tammy Tigers and ERESA concluded their tournament with the bronze medal match, where the latter prevailed through goals from Karabo Msani and Thabiso Mahlangu.
Amahle FC’s Lungile Mokoena was one of the recipients of individual awards handed out at the trophy presentation, winning the Golden Boot in the male category with eight goals scored, while Siyabulela Mabele of Orbit College walked away with the title of Most Valuable Player (MVP).
In the women’s section, UJ Ladies striker Victoria Biathole was the Golden Boot winner after scoring seven goals in the tournament, with Tuks Ladies’ Onewane Laka taking home the MVP award.