As the springtime air spans the scope of the City, members of Rygersdal Football Club hold their breath in anticipation amidst a flurry of nervous feelings ahead of Sunday’s SAFA Cape Town Coca-Cola Amateur Cup semi-final matches.
The club’s first team, with head coach Gershawn Coetzee in the hot seat, face an inspired Woodlands United in the competition’s penultimate fixture whilst Under 18 side, coached by Ashraf Calvert, take on their LFA rivals, Hellenic.
It’s worth noting this is the first time the club has found itself contending both the Senior and Junior competition semi-final; so history awaits as both coaches look to set another record with two sides in the Final taking place in two weeks’ time.
It could be said that Calvert’s side have had a far easier road to the final than their senior counterparts, but the club’s Junior Chairman, Luther Muller, feels it’s a deserving moment for a coach and squad that’s come so far.
“Many people will not have realised the work that has gone into preparing for this tournament,” Muller told the CTTLFA website when speaking about the prospect of facing Ubuntu or Cape Town City in the competition final. “It has been ongoing for a few years now and is not something the Coach just woke up last week thinking about.
“We have been focused on qualifying for major tournaments like the Engen Knockout and the Bayhill Premier Cup, and with the drought season and now the pandemic it’s been near impossible, but the Coke Cup has been something we’ve had our eye on since our seniors won it for the second time in 2017 and we’re just one game away from realising that dream.”
Muller, whose son is a member of Hellenic’s excellent youth structure, explained that the club’s first team achievements over the past few years have inspired the young guns to progress: “I think it would be safe to say that watching our first team, and some of the quality players in that setup, these young stars want to achieve as much – if not more – than those they look up to and this is their opportunity to make it count.”
A final against Dynamos or Clover could be on the cards for Coetzee’s Senior squad but they first need to overcome the obstacle of a spirited and confident Woodlands side who beat Saxon Rovers in their last round fixture.
The former eTV sports anchor isn’t getting ahead of himself as he prepares for the weekend’s game, although for him, every fixture is a final.
“It’s really difficult to prepare your team for such a short season,” the coach explained. “Because you’ve got games coming so fast – sometimes two or three in a seven-day period – you have to treat each one as though it’s a final. Slipping up once could cost you dearly.”
Even with the world of expectations on their shoulders, both coaches will find solace in the fact that achieving a spot in this part of the competitions is, on it’s own, something to celebrate. And while it would be a phenomenal story for them to both progress onto the final game of the season, there’s no pressure.
“The coaches and players… they’ve done a sterling job,” said Justin Asher, the club’s Chairman. “I am proud of how far we’ve come over the past few years. We have managed to maintain competitive teams in these age groups and retain some of our best players.
“They deserve to share in the spoils of a Cup final but whatever happens on Sunday, they should look back on the past 16 months and realise that this on its own merit is a fantastic achievement to get so far in the competition,” he concluded.
Calvert’s under 18’s will take on fellow CTTLFA counterparts, Hellenic, at 11h00 on Sunday. Coach Ashraf will be looking to make it two-out-of-two as he’ll also be in the mix moments later during the Ladies Semi Final where his Vasco da Gama team battle Spurs in the female competition.
Coetzee will ready his starting 11 to take the field against Woodlands a little later for the 15h30 kickoff.
In other semi-final action, Hellenic’s U15 girls team have the opportunity to play in the Denis Goldberg Cup final if they overcome YMCA Ladies or RV United at the Rooikrans Sports Complex. Their match kicks off at 13h30.