Ajax, Hellenic set for Prem Cup

Hout Bay United FC's Nazario Adams and Hellenic's Logan Brown tussle for possession during their Premier Cup qualifier in Mitchell's Plain at the weekend. Hellenic won 2-0.
The curtain went down on the qualifiers for this year’s Bayhill Premier Cup and Ajax Cape Town are among the sides that booked their spots at Erica Park, in Belhar, come Easter weekend.

The Parow-based outfit achieved that after topping Group G with eight points, at the Bayhill Legacy fields in Mitchell’s Plain at the weekend.

They collected those points after recording two wins and scoring a draw  in their three matches.

The Young Urban Warriors joined Grassy Park, Greenwood Athletic, Milano United, Black Birds, D&G Orient, Nova Nacional, Alana Academy, Blue Downs Spurs, PPG Langa, Silver Spurs, Hellenic, Hout Bay United and Everton as Cape Town representatives in this year’s tournament to be played in Erica Park, Belhar, over the weekend.

In this weekend’s round of qualifiers Ajax found themselves in Group G alongside Everton, Porto and Mitchell’s Plain Clinic of Excellence (MPCE).

The side started their campaign off on a high note after beating MPCE 2-0 in their opener. They were, however, held to a one-all draw against Porto before beating Everton 2-1 to book their spot in Belhar.

The toughest group, however, had to be Group F, where powerhouses Hellenic, Hout Bay United, Glendene United and Ikapa Sporting battled it out.

The group was eventually won by Hellenic who collected maximum points after winning their three matches.

That meant Hout Bay, Glendene and Ikapa had to fight for the second qualifying spot. And there was nothing much that separated the sides as they all finished on three points each.

The goal difference had to decide who would join Hellenic in the tournament proper. It was, in the end, the Hout Bay side that went through.

The tournament will celebrate its 30th anniversary over the Easter weekend this year.

The under-19 showpiece, formally known as the Metropolitan Premier Cup, came into existence in 1989 when the Bay City Ramblers and Sparkhill FC combined to form Bayhill.

The inaugural competition took place at the Rocklands sports ground in Mitchell’s Plain before in moved to Erica Park in Belhar.

Matroosfontein FC were the winners while Hellenic and Ajax Cape Town have been crowned champions six times. SuperSport United were the last team to win back-to-back titles after they annexed the title in 2016 and 2017.

International teams have been invited to the event, aamong these Elnglish club Swansea City and Zambia’s Zesco United.

The “Bayhill” has been graced by a number of Bafana Bafana and PSL stars such as Rivaldo Coetzee, Ayanda Patosi, Fagrie Lakay, Moeneeb Josephs and Cole Alexander.

Former PSL players who played in the annual event included Matthew Booth, Lance Davids, David Kannemeyer, Bradley August, Nasief Morris and Benni McCarthy.

Alexander said he always dreamt of playing in the competition.

“It was always the tournament I looked out for, whether it was as a spectator or player. Saalman King (previously Graham King) was my community hero when I went to watch the competition. To win the Bayhill with Ajax Cape Town in 2008 was one of my fondest memories. I am grateful to have participated in the competition a few times which set me up for the PSL,” he said.

Tournament director PJ Williams said they would like to make this year’s tournament a celebration.

Williams said a highlight was watching McCarthy and Morris play.

“I remember handing over the trophy to Benni when he was named player of the tournament. Nasief, on the other hand, was just as good,” he said.