Western Cape were crowned SAFA SAB League National Champions, edging out Mpumalanga 3-2 at the Coetzenburg Stadium in Stellenbosch on Saturday.
Despite an incessant drizzle and gloomy grey skies there was a festival atmosphere at the Coetzenburg Stadium as fans packed the main grandstand, with numerous football dignitaries, coaches and scouts also in attendance.
The final delivered on all counts and was a fitting end to five days of exciting and promising Under-21 action.
The cool conditions suited the players perfectly, allowing for a high-energy approach from both teams and plenty of entertainment for the fans - early action looked promising as both teams appeared sharp and in the zone.
Mpumalanga had the first decent chance when Vusi Mofokeng found himself clean through on goal, but the Western Cape keeper came out tops in a brave stop.
With 10 minutes on the clock the Cape side had a nearly identical opportunity as Therlo Moosa looked set to score, only to also be denied by an excellent reflex stop.
The deadlock was broken on 15 minutes, the outstanding Peter Adams sending in an inch-perfect cross for Moosa to steer into the far post with his head.
The game remained tight after that, with neither side able to create chances until Mpumalanga equalised rather out of the blue, Mthokozisi Madalane seeing his tame free kick trickling into goal after Western Cape keeper Noel Roland failed to hang on to the ball.
But the home side were back in front in first half injury time when a lovely flowing team move ended with the ball being flicked into the back post vicinity where Thulani Mkosi finished clinically with a low drive.
The home province grew stronger after the break and only some last-ditch committed defending from Mpumalanga kept the score-line unchanged as first Moosa and then Mkosi had their efforts cleared off the goal-line.
Western Cape were however to get their reward midway through the stanza when the Mpumalanga keeper spilled a free kick into the path of Mitch Lenders who had a simple finish.
The visitors from up north were however not prepared to go down without a fight, and cut the deficit to just one goal with 25 minutes to go when Mduduzi Sibeko scrambled the ball over the line from two yards out after Roland again failed to hang onto the ball.
The closing minutes of the game were fairly incident free as Mpumalanga were unable to threaten the Western Cape goal, allowing Gordon Witbooi’s side to coast through to victory.