Sunday Jul 20, 2014. 10:13
North West and Free State will have their sights set on the trophy when they meet in the final of the 2014 SAB Under-21 National Championships at the North West University Sports Grounds on Sunday afternoon at 15h00.
The home side had to dig deep in their semi-final clash against defending champions Western Cape, coming from behind to force a 1-1 draw before winning the tie 4-3 on penalties.
Free State on the other hand had a more comfortable path towards the final, hammering KwaZulu-Natal 5-1 to book their spot in the decider.
The two sides are no strangers to each other as they both came from Group A, where they finished with four points each.
North West finished at the top of the standings due to a superior goal difference, while Free State were second, but it is the visiting side who won 2-1 when they last met in the final group match.
Free State coach Litre Mokitlane is proud of the way his charges have responded after losing their opening encounter 2-1 against KwaZulu-Natal.
“We didn’t start the tournament well and we lost our first game but I’ve always believed in these boys,” he said. “Once the nerves settled they started to feel more confident and played to their strengths.”
Mokitlane is hopeful that they will continue from where they left off when they contest for the trophy on Sunday afternoon.
“We have to keep doing the same things we did against KZN; defend well and convert our chances. It’s going to be a tough game.”
North West coach Gideon Noge also praised his side for withstanding the pressure to go all the way to the finals.
“It’s always tough when you are the home team because the expectations are always high but I have to commend the players because they have taken this in a positive way,” said Noge.
“So far we are on track because our first objective was to make sure that we reach the final; now we have to go out there and win it.
“It’s not going to be easy because Free State have already beaten us and they are much more confident now, but we have learnt from our mistakes and we know what we have to do on Sunday.”
Free State will be looking at their star players like Lefty Mokhabi and Dylan O’Brien to continue producing the goods upfront, while the home side will hope the likes of George Ramokgadi and Omphemetse Mothusi will have their scoring boots on.