27 December 2017 - The semi-finalists at the Discovery Walter Sisulu Soccer Challenge have been decided.
Senaoane Gunners booked their place in the last four after defeating Strokes FC 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw at the end of regulation time. Gunners will now face Dzakaroski FC, who also needed a penalty shootout to dispose of crowd favourites Soweto Super United 5-3 - at full-time both teams were tied at one goal apiece.
Debutants La-Masia FC will face The Boys FC after the latter beat Mapetla All Stars 1-0. La-Masia FC have to thank their goalkeeper Gabriel Thomas who saw through to the last four with a brilliant display that denied Catalonia following a 1-1 stalemate when the final whistle sounded.
La-Masia won 5-1 on penalties.
The tournament is currently underway at the Nike Football Training Centre in Pimville, Soweto.
The commentary team at this year's Discovery Walter Sisulu Soccer Challenge have baptised Thomas as 'The archangel'.
And that's because the 20-year old Orlando Pirates 'keeper dives for the ball like the one who has wings on his back to carry him.
Time and gravity seems to lose its rhythm, especially in penalty shootouts, each time he lifts off for the ball.
Thomas, who demonstrated his quality between the goalposts in his side's victory on Wednesday afternoon (27 December 2017), revealed that penalty takes and savings, is one area of his game he works extremely hard on to improve each time.
Asked how it felt like when the rest of his teammates rushed toward him in goal after saving the last penalty of the day, Thomas had this to say: "I felt honoured, really. The truth is penalty shootouts are never easy. And what I do is; I always wait on the penalty taker to see in which direction he is going before I dive for the ball. I learned this trick from the late Orlando Pirates shot-stopper, Senzo Meyiwa when I used to train with him in the reserves. To this day, I still go over his material (video footage) to just continue learning on how he used to handle himself between the sticks in penalty shootouts."
Thomas added that he'll continue putting in the required hard work at his mother club (Pirates), until he establishes himself as a regular in the first team.
"I've been passionate about the game for as long as I can remember," added Thomas. "I spent three years at Pirates development structures before I joined Kaizer Chiefs for a year. I parted ways with the Glamour Boys mainly because I wanted to finish my matric first. I did that. It was only after I had finished my matric that I was able to reunite with Pirates, and haven't looked back ever since.
"I just need to put in the required hard work there, while being patient waiting for my time to crack it into the first team as well. Senzo still remains a big motivation in my life to keep on going because; the guy was there at the club for the longest time (before he got his big break). I just need to do the same thing as well."
MATCH DAY 26 - Discovery Walter Sisulu Soccer Challenge Results:
1. Protea Real Hearts FC 0 vs. 4 Dlamini XI Experience
2. Orange Army FC 0 vs. 1 Pimville Cameroon FC
3. Kibler Park United 1 vs. 4 Infinity Sports FC
4. Kibler Park United 1 vs. 1 Infinity Sports FC (Infinity win 5-3 on penalties)
1. Mito Stars FC 2 vs. 4 Soweto Fabulous Ladies FC
2. Naledi Ladies FC 0 vs. 7 Soweto Ladies FC
3. Yarona Ladies FC 0 vs. 0 Sunbirds FC
1. Senaoane Gunners 1 vs. 1 Strokes FC (Gunners win 4-2 on penalties)
2. Mapetla All Stars 0 vs. 1 The Boys FC
3. La-Masia FC 1 vs. 1 Catalonia (La-Masia win 5-1 on penalties)
4. Dzakaroski 1 vs. 1 Soweto Super United (Dzakaroski win 5-3 on penalties)
SEMI-FINAL FIXTURES - THURSDAY, 28 DECEMBER 2017
Dlamini XI Experience vs. Infinity Sports FC - 10h00
J Stars FC vs. Pimville Cameroon FC - 11h00LADIES
1. Mito Stars FC vs. Naledi Ladies FC - 12h00
2. Soweto Ladies FC vs. Soweto Fabulous Ladies FC - 13h00SENIORS
1. The Boys FC vs. La-Masia FC - 15h00
2. Senaoane Gunners FC vs. Dzakaroski FC - 16h30
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(IMAGE - Popey Mpambaniso of Soweto Super United challenged by Andile Makhwe
of Dzakaroski during the 2017 Discovery Walter Sisulu Soccer
Challenge Quarter Final at Nike Centre, Soweto.)