HARARE – Zimbabwe’s Friendly Academy are the 2017 champions of the annual Durban Friendship Soccer Tournament (OR Tambo Cup) after defeating Newlands FC 2-0 in the final over the weekend.
This was the second time the Raylton Sports Club-based academy was participating in the eight-team tournament having reached last year’s final where they lost to Chesterville Academy.
Friendly Academy director and coach Patridge Muskwe was over the moon following his side’s achievement.
“It’s a great feeling to have won this tournament; we are very happy to have reached the final again and this time won the cup,” Muskwe told the Daily News from South Africa.
“We managed to play to play well as the tournament progressed and I’m very happy for the boys as they showed a lot of character.”
The Zimbabweans’ arrival in Durban coincided with the heavy floods that rocked KwaZulu Natal last week. At least eight people lost their lives due to the flooding while thousands were left homeless after the unexpected thunder rains.
The tournament start had to be delayed by at least a day as the pitches were waterlogged after the floods. It did not go according to plan in the group stages for Friendly Academy as they suffered a 3-0 loss at the hands of Flamingo FC.
“We were totally confused and the boys still had heavy legs and were suffering from fatigue after the long bus journey when we lost the first game,” Muskwe said.
“However, we adjusted quite well in the remaining two group matches as we changed a lot of things; the formation, line-up and how we approached the game.”
To book their place in the knockout stages, Friendly Academy responded well to demolish Ntokozo Academy 10-0 in their second game. The Zimbabweans concluded their group assignment with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Clermont Academy to seal their last four passage. In the semi-finals, Friendly Academy faced a difficult prospect as they faced Chesterville; their nemesis from last year’s final but they prevailed 2-1.
“After the semi-final we celebrated like crazy. If you had seen us you would have thought that we had won the tournament. It was sweet revenge for last year’s defeat,” Muskwe said.
In the final, Friendly Academy won the cup with an easy win over Newlands FC with Enrique Ndlovu and Takudzwa Mushamaenza getting the goals. To cap off a fine tour, Friendly Academy also completed a clean sweep at the awards ceremony after the tournament.
Tatenda Mabvudza was named the Goalkeeper of the Tournament, Mushamaenza was the Best Striker while Muskwe walked away with Coach of the Tournament gong. Muskwe’s son Takudzwa won the tournament’s Golden Boot after scoring five goals in five matches.
“There were a number of scouts in attendance and we are just now waiting to hear what they will say after they were impressed by a number our players,” Muskwe said.