REAL City once again demonstrated the depth of soccer in the Motherwell area when they won promotion to the Safa Second Division yesterday.
They will join Bay Stars and Highbury despite losing 3-0 to JB Milan in the final of the playoffs at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium yesterday.
City sailed through the group stage, beating Madikizela All Stars 2-1 and The Stars 1-0 on Saturday.
In their last match of the group stage, they trounced Intellectuals 3-1.
But they ran out of legs in the final against Milan after they had to go into the match after just a 15-minute break.
Milan, on the other hand, had a two-hour break as they had finished their group match against Junior Chiefs earlier in the morning. The result was academic as both teams qualified for promotion.
“We are not making excuses [for losing to Milan] but it is asking too much of the boys to play two matches in quick succession, especially after two matches yesterday [Saturday],” said City coach Bonke Namba.
“We are happy that we won promotion, not only for ourselves but for the region as well.”
“This is not the end but only the beginning. We have to sit down to plot the way forward as playing in the Second Division is not going to be easy.
“We will be able to beef up our squad because there is plenty of talent in our area, but playing at the next level is very expensive as we have to travel as far as Kokstad, Mthatha, Matatiele and East London.”
“Without sponsorship, we will be left in the starting blocks. We are urging companies to come aboard as part of their social responsibility. For the youth in our area, soccer is more than just a game.”
Meanwhile, Milan completed the double for the former Safa-EP region. Before the demarcation, Jeffreys Bay played under the Safa-EP banner.
Milan scored 13 goals with just three against in their four matches, including the final.
“The promotion of the two teams from our area is a good indicator of the progress we have made in the development of the game,” said Safa-NMB vice-president Monde Mhletya.
“The Milan team, in particular, was virtually an under-21 team. The Safa rule that all the teams in the league must field a minimum of five (u-21) players at all times is certainly paying dividends.
“The level of administration of both City and Milan is also of the highest standard. Safa–NMB is proud of both teams and wish them every success in the Second Division.”
Group stage: New Nations 3 Junior Chiefs 1, Madikizela All Stars 1 Real City 2, Willowvale United 1 JB Milan 4, The Stars 1 Intellectuals 1, JB Milan 1 New Nations 1, Intellectuals 3 Madikizela All Stars 1, Junior Chiefs 3 Willovale United 1, Real City 1 The Stars 0, Real City 3 Intellectuals 1.
Final: JB Milan 3 Real City 0