Ubuntu fight until the bitter end


Despite his side going down 5-3 in a nail-biting penalty shootout against Stellenbosch, Cape Ubuntu FC’s Xavier Jodanus, 17, from Steenberg, didn’t walk away empty-handed.

The talented midfielder, a Grade 11 pupil at the Ubuntu Academy, was named player of the tournament in what was the 21st edition of the Engen Knockout Challenge, which ended at the Rooikrans sports complex, in Grassy Park, on Sunday.

Back-to back champions in 2019 and 2020 and finalists in three Knockout Challenge cup finals in the past four years and semi-finalists in last year’s competition, Ubuntu managed to hold the newly-crowned champions to a goalless draw at the end of regular time.

Engen Knockout Challenge player of the tournament Xavier Jodanus with Engen strategic, communication and branding manager Joan Njoroge at Sunday’s prize-giving ceremony. The youngster also collected the award for the best midfielder of the tournament. Picture: MARK WARD

The lanky teenager, who says he aims to complete his high school education before chasing a footballing career, was also named as the tournament’s best midfielder.

“I really enjoyed participating in the tournament and found it to be very exciting. Yes I’m studying hard to complete my education. My ambition is to play in Europe and play for the national side. I have already played for the national under-17 team,” the youngster said.

Stellenbosch FC Academy’s Tylon Smith and Xavier Jodanus tussle for possession during Sunday’s cup final match. Picture: Fuad Esack

Meanwhile, Stellenbosch along with women’s winners Cape Town Roses, will represent the Western Cape at this year’s Engen Champ of Champs in Johannesburg at the end of the month where they will compete against the winners of the other eight provinces.

Stellenbosch FC’s Keanu Toutie tries to keep tabs on Ubuntu’s Losika Ratshukudo during their side’s cup final clash. Picture: Fuad Esack

As expected, the weekend’s competition was at an all-time high in both the boys’ and girls’ divisions.

In die girls’ division, Roses clinched the title for the second consecutive year when they beat RV United in the final after emerging from tough group and knockout stages.

Cape Town Roses’ Lethemba Samsam was named the girls player of the tournament in the Engen Knockout Challenge 2023 edition. Picture: Mark Mark

In the boys’ division, Cape Town Spurs knocked out defending champions Cape Town City in the quarter-finals before going down to eventual winners Stellenbosch in the semi-finals.

Stellies had to fight hard in the final against a resolute Ubuntu side who enjoyed much ball possession in a highly entertaining final which ended goalless. However, the boys from Stellenbosch triumphed 5-4 in the penalty shootout.

Individual award winners:

Girls’ divisions:

Referee of the tournament: Sophumelela Gxowa

Goalkeeper of the tournament: Queen Dlamini (Salt River Blackpool)

Defender of the tournament: Lelona Ngonyama (Dangerous Ladies)

Midfielder of the tournament: Thimna Mpehle (SRBP)

Striker of the tournament: Lethemba Samsam (CT Roses)

Top goalscorer: Lisakhanya Situlweni (CT Roses)

Coach of the tournament: Shannon Miles (SRBP)

Fair play team of the tournament: Salt River Blackpool

Player of the tournament: Lethemba Samsam (CT Roses)

Boys division:

Goalkeeper of the tournament: Saraick De Lona (Hellenic)

Defender of the tournament: Tulon Smith (Stellenbosch)

Midfielder of the tournament: Xavier Jodanus (Ubuntu)

Striker of the tournament: Luke Baartman (Cape Town Spurs)

Top goalscorer: Gavariro Bester (Ubuntu)

Coach of the tournament: Mason October (Rygersdal)

Fair play team of the tournament: (Rygersdal)

Player of the tournament: Xavier Jodanus (Ubuntu)