28 May 2021 – Goals, drama and everything in between, the South African Football Association’s (SAFA) intriguing third tier ABC Motsepe League, is set for an exciting conclusion as stream winners battle it out for spots in the annual ABC play-offs, with First Division places on the line.
One of the more intriguing battles came from the Northern Cape edition, with both streams taking a no-holds-barred approach to proceedings.
The ‘West’ stream was eventually won by NC Professionals at an absolute canter, having achieved 13 victories with three draws and a goal difference of +40, to go unbeaten.
The winners of the ‘South’ stream, Hungry Lions FC, were just as impressive, with 16 wins from as many games and ironically, also with a +40 goal difference.
The one-off match to determine the overall provincial winner will take place this Saturday at a central venue and is all set to be one for the ages between two of the most lethal attacks in the entire league.
SAFA.net caught up with Hungry Lions coach, Henry Basie, a man who also doubles as their manager, as he outlaid the team’s setbacks, preparation strategies, emotions and goals for the future.
The Postmasburg based club was left disappointed last season at the national play-offs but never gave up and were determined to go one step further this time around. However, the small matter of COVID-19 put more than just a spanner in the works.
Talking about the effects it had on the team, Basie, a former player for the team, stated that it was tough to deal with.
“Look, it was very scary to be honest. We had no game time, no supporters and the pandemic simply held us back. It was a tough period for us all,” he said.
However, upon return, the players hit the ground running and stormed to the stream title with zero defeats. This was in no way down to luck and chance as Basie had a proper plan in mind.
“The key for us was preparation. We utilised the time we had to keep fit, train and prepare well in advance. We kept our core base but added some U23 players to give us a nice mix of youth and experience. We went for the ‘smash and grab’ approach in our first five games which was simply to play beautiful football. We broke up the number of matches into chunks, taking the first five games and then the next batch and went from there. This worked well for us,” he added.
Basie then reflected on eventually overcoming the odds and winning the stream.
“We had limited resources but we caught the eye. I am proud of the boys and hope we can serve as an inspiration to others. Hopefully we can push on further and gain more recognition,” said the coach.
On the big game this weekend, Basie knows that a job still needs to be done.
“It’s a huge game. It’s a do-or-die fixture for us and we need to prepare very well. There will be some anxiety and we also won’t have our supporters with us but we will be ready and are confident of reaching the play-offs and beyond,” concluded Basie.
With this type of attitude, there is no doubt that the Lions are indeed hungry for success. Saturday’s match will take place at the Mxolisi Dicky Jacobs Stadium.