MZILIKAZI High School dismissed defending champions and hosts Gifford High 2-0 to win the sole ticket to represent Bulawayo Metropolitan Province in this year’s edition of the Copa Coca-Cola Under-16 boys’ final.
The national finals will be held Churchill High School in Harare on the weekend of July 18-20.
Mzilikazi won courtesy of two early first-half goals from golden boot winner Shadreck Nyahwa and their captain Gift Lunga junior, the son of former Highlanders and National team left-back Gift Lunga Junior.
The Bulawayo champions will be looking to advance past the group stages where they have been pitted against representatives from Harare and the Midlands provinces in the national finals.
Mzilikazi’s route to the final was an impressive one as they managed to keep a clean sheet throughout the provincial finals beating Magwegwe 1-0 in the semi-finals while Gifford eased past Milton 2-0 in the other semi-final match.
Mgcini Ncube, coach of Mzilikazi High said he was pleased that his side had finally made it into the national finals after three years of failing to do so.
“The boys played very well and I am happy that we managed to win today without conceding a goal,” he said.
“However, I am concerned with having to play all the matches in one day as that can be too strenuous for the young players and can result in injuries since we will be using the same players. Today we played over 180 minutes of football and I think the organisers need to look into that in the coming editions of the games,” Ncube added.
Mzilikazi was the last Bulawayo school to win the competition in 2001 and can boast producing legendary former Warriors striker Peter Ndlovu.
In the girls’ Under-17 competition, it was an outstanding performance from Buhlebenkosi Zulu who scored four goals to aid Magwegwe in a 4-0 thrashing of Sobukhazi in the final.
Zulu received the golden boot award in the girls’ section with six goals while Mzilikazi’s Nyawha picked up the boys’ award with four goals to his name.
Bonface Katsumbe who was representing the sponsors of the event said he was pleased with the level of competition exhibited especially in the girls’ contest.
“We have seen today (Friday) some if not the best talent in the country in secondary school football for both girls and boys. Coming out very strongly were the girls’ teams, the level of skill exhibited in the pitch was very impressive,” Katsumbe said.
Medals were presented to the runners-up as well as the third place play-off winners in both the boys and girls categories.
Group A: Chemhanza (defending champs), Masvingo, Mash Central.
Group B: Harare, Mzilikazi, Midlands.
Group C: Mash East, Mat North, Manicaland.
Group D: Churchill (hosts), Mash West, Mat North.
Group A: Roosevelt (hosts), Mat South, Mash Central.
Group B: Mash East, Masotsha, Masvingo.
Group C: Midlands, Chidyamakono (defending champs), Mat North.
Group D: Harare, Manicaland, Mash West