Who will win SAB league?

Staff Writer, 12 April 2019

The stakes are high, the scene is set, and the rewards are huge. With the SAB League in Cape Town fast drawing to an end, four clubs have emerged as strong contenders to lift the trophy come May 25.

Only three points separate Young Pirates (42 points), Greenwood Athletic (40 points with a game in hand), Matroosfontein (40) and Hanover Park (39) from each other in the summit of the log standings, with less than eight games remaining. All are vying for the much-sought after spot in the ABC Motsepe League play-offs.

Interestingly, Pirates and Matroosfontein are playing their first season in this level – South Africa’s forth football tier. But which one will come out victorious and why? Capeat6sport put this question out to three of the four contenders, and below are their responses:

Although pace-setters Young Pirates are a surprise package, club chairman, Ricardo Daniels, believes that the history of this Heideveld-based side and their aspirations are good enough to convince Capetonians that they will be crowned as champions in six weeks’ time.

“Our journey talks for itself,” he said. “After I took over the ownership of the club in 2015 and relocated it from Strand to Heideveld (for operational reasons), we won the amateur Coca Cola Cup in 2016, and from there our aspirations became bigger and bigger. We are a success-driven team and when we put our head into something, it becomes the only thing we live for.

“As you can see where we are on the log, we had a seven-year plan and we are two years into it. Our desire is to be in the National First Division (South Africa’s second football tier), even if we only touch it. We have played and won a lot of tournaments. Young Pirates is and will be a force to be reckoned with”.

Patrick Weels, coach of another newcomer-turned contender in the SAB league, Matroosfontein of Elsies River, is as confident. “Why compete if not in it to win?” he asked. “We gave a good account of ourselves in the first round and ended up on top of the league. We had few mishaps in March and dropped a lot of points.

“We had to make some drastic changes, changed the playing staff and the playing style and also had a change of mind on where do we want to be and what to do and how far are we prepared to go. We are capable enough to go through as a team. It’s going to be tough from now on but that should bring the best out of us. I think we should make it at the end of the day.”

Steenberg-based Greenwood have experience of playing football at a higher level. They participated in the former Vodacom League (now ABC Motsepe League), a division higher than the SAB league, before selling their franchise and started afresh.

Mathematically, if they can win their remaining nine matches the league trophy is theirs. However, as head coach Lionel Miller puts it, it is easier said than done. “There are tough games coming up against top teams and against those facing relegation. It is not going to be easy but we will give it our best shot.”

Having won promotion in 2016/2017 season and ended as runners up in their first spell in SAB league, Greenwood have proved that they mean business. “We have been playing with our hearts the whole the season,” Miller said. “And the players we have mostly come from the same community in the Steenberg, Lavender Hill, and Parkwood areas. They know each other and play for each other, and that is one of the reasons we are so formidable.”

Attempts to get a comment from Hanover Park were not successful by the time of going to press. But the stage is set, and watch this space.

Who do you think will win the league and why? Please share your views.