Johannesburg - Thato Matli – be sure to remember this name because the 15-year-old will be a household name in South African soccer in the near future.
Matli was the toast of the Copa Coca-Cola Under-15 national tournament in Bloemfontein – he captained his school to victory. His five goals also earned him the top goal-scorer accolade.
The jersey number 10 scored the winning goal, ensuring that Clapham High were crowned this year’s champions after defeating Dr JL Dube High 2-1 at the Mangaung Sports Complex.
“I was expecting to be the player of the tournament, but I am happy I got this [top goal-scorer] award,” he said.
Matli said he hoped other youngsters were inspired to participate in next year’s tournament.
He has now set his sights on bigger things and is looking forward to take the opportunity to join the Under-17 Future Champs competition next year.
The development programme has produced big names in local football, including Belgium-based Bafana Bafana midfielder Andile Jali, who now plays for KV Oostende, Bloemfontein Celtic striker Ndumiso Mabena and Mandla Masango, who played for Kaizer Chiefs and now represents Danish club Randers.
Matli says prayer and hard work keep him going.
He also reckons that support from his family has been instrumental in his growth.
Matli joined Clapham High last year, but they were unable to reach the national finals after losing in the provincial play-offs. However, they were not to be denied this year and they soldiered on until the end.
The school, which is coached by former Mamelodi Sundowns and Bafana Bafana winger Isaac Shai, walked away with prize money of R80 000, while the runners up received R30 000.