Johannesburg’s Bree Primary School, representing Gauteng, are the 2015 Danone Nation Cup champions. They beat the Free State champions, Nelson Mandela Primary School 2-0 in the final of the national playoffs in Reiger Park last Saturday to take the national title and, with it, earn the chance to represent the country at the Danone Nations Cup world finals in Morocco later in the year.
“We are back where we belong,” said an excited coach, Bafana Dlamini, as this is the third time the school Bree has taken the national crown and in 2009 they went all the way, winning the Danone Nations Cup World title.
“We worked extremely hard from the beginning, I know it sounds like a cliché, but hard work ensures success and we have proven that. This team is similar to one in 2009 that won the world finals, they are hard workers, they are determined and they are very disciplined.”
The national finals were very tough and competitive, Dlamini said, but the team had home ground advantage and that made them even more determined.
“All the schools were in it to win. I was surprised that the school from KZN didn’t qualify for the final match as they were the dominant team at the nationals, but it goes to show that any school can win the nationals and that it’s important to win all your games.”
The coach was confident going into the final match. “On hearing that we were meeting Nelson Mandela in the final game I knew that we had it in the bag as we were stronger than the Free State team. They were slower than us and our 2 goals came quite easily. It was not a tough final for us.”
Its school holidays now, so the players will have a bit of a rest. They can relax and enjoy telling everyone that they are going to Morocco, said the coach.
“But that will change as soon as schools reopens as we have scheduled a training programme for the team,” Dlamini said, “and I will solicit some coaching help from outside. Lucky Shiburi (goalkeeper coach for the national team) is a close friend of mine, I will be asking him for assistance as we prepare for the Morocco,” Dlamini said.
They will be sticking to their strengths, which is playing on the ground with no long or high passes. “That style got us here and we will keep it up,” Dlamini said.
He stresses that the victory was a team effort. “Credit must be given to the entire team. They played brilliantly and we were very impressed at how they managed to maintain their cool and do what we have taught them to do from the beginning.
“I must, however, give credit to Ntando Simayile, our captain. I have been privileged to have coached him for 5 years now. He is an exceptional player, very disciplined and committed to the sport.
Another player who stood out, the coach said, was Tshepo Baitshumedi. “His skills are on point; he scored a fantastic goal from quite a distance when we played against Benny’s.
Another star on the day was Gomolemo Dladla, who has performed consistently throughout the tournament, scoring three goals, said Dlamini
“I have been coaching these boys for 5 years now, I have been preparing them for this and they have proved that they are ready. There is a lot of hard work ahead for us, but we are up for it,” Dlamini concluded.