Greek Gods shine at Premier Cup

KEAGAN MITCHELL

Hellenic captain Mickyle Jackson showed some great skills with the ball as he scored two goals and helped with four assists in his side’s march to the mid-section finals of the under-19 Premier Cup, over the Easter weekend, at Erica Park in Belhar.

His performances in the final were enough to see his side crowned the mid-section champions after they beat Milano United 3-0 in the finals. Ahead of their clash against the boys in yellow they beat debutants Atlantic Nacional 2-0 in the mid-section semi-finals. This was after they lost 2-1 to rivals Ajax Cape Town in the quarter-finals.That meant the Greek Gods have now bowed out of the tournament in the quarters for two year’s running as they fell off at the same stage of the competition last year.

In a highly-physical encounter against Ajax on Sunday, the two sides proved to be evenly-matched as action moved from one end of the field to the other with high speed. The 1-1 half-time score was, in the end, a true reflection of what went down in the first half. The second half started with the same pace with both sides having a serious go at each other. Things changed dramatically late in the second half when Ajax were awarded a penalty, which was converted and Hellenic’s hopes faded right in front of them.

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Jackson said he felt good about his performances but he felt he could have done better in certain matches.

“I was one of the more experienced guys on the field who guided the team where each player had a job to do. Although we were knocked-out in the quarter-finals, the boys never gave up and we still managed to win silverware,” he said.

Hellenic brought in a fairly young side to this year’s competition as seven of the squad members were part of their under-17 side that finished third in last year’s Knockout Challenge, in Parow.

They started the Premier Cup off well, beating debutants Mitchell’s Plain Clinical of Excellence (MPCE) 5-0 in their opening game. This was the second match between the two sides since February, as they also found themselves in the same group in the qualifiers. Hellenic won that match 2-1 but Coach Neven Payne said that victory was water under the bridge as they knew MPCE would come at them.

“We were more relaxed coming into the game and they had chances. We took our chances and we buried the game early,” he said.

Their second game did not materialise as Jomo Comos failed to pitch up for the tournament due to their bus having issues en route to Cape Town. It was between them and hosts Bay Hill United to fight it out for top spot and in the end Hellenic won 3-0. They continued where they left off in the play-offs, and finished on top of Group B at the Premier Cup. Their constant run of form showed in the round of 16 after they beat Amazulu 2-0.

Hellenic scored the most goals in the group stages without conceding and Payne said he was happy with his side’s performances. He was also quick to note that it was not about the amount of goals but about getting the results.

Payne said it was a great feeling to win the mid-section championships and proud of his players who improved as the tournament progressed.

“We need to mould players for next year competition as we have already identify positions that we need to fill,” he said