An excellent performance by winger Angelo Barrote was key in newcomers Nova Nacional’s run in this year’s Kenpark United Arising Stars under-23 tournament in Mitchell’s Plain, at the weekend.
The Milnerton-based outfit went all the way to the final, before going down 1-0 against Mitchell’s Plain’s Bayview.
Nacional, despite playing in their first ever Arising Stars competition, proved to be one of the best sides in the competition.
It was not surprising that Barrote walked away with the Player of the Tournament award. He was brilliant on the wings.
Sheldon Stanley, Aden April as well as goalkeeper Franklyn Miller also made their mark with sterling performances.
Pitted in the same group as strong sides like Saringa Spurs, defending champions Strandfontein and Woodlands FC, Nacional started slowly, drawing 0-0 with Spurs.They then beat Strandfontein and Woodlands 2-1 and 1-0, respectively, to advance to the knockout stages.
Their most difficult match of the knockout stages, according to manager Reyaad Joseph, was the semi-final encounter against Black Bird Academy, a side that he described as arguably the best in the competition.
In that particular match, Nacional found themselves trailing 2-1 with a few minutes to go. They scored a goal in the dying minutes to force the match into penalties.
They went on to win 4-2 on the shoot-outs to book a spot in the final against Bayview, who eventually beat them 1-0. Joseph said the competition let them see where they were doing well and the areas where they needed to improve.
And, if the recent performances are anything to go by, the future looks bright.
“We were one of the youngest teams in the competition. The oldest player in our team was only 20 years old.
“In fact, 99% percent of the team was made up of players who won the recent Greensmile under-20 competition,” he said.
Besides their success in the Greensmile under-20 tourney, the side also did well in the prestigious Bayhill under-19 Premier Cup in Belhar where, in their maiden appearance, they went on to the Plate Section semi-final.