Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], May 24 (ANI): West Ham United FC drew 3-3 with Stellenbosch FC in their final group stage fixture of the Premier League Next Generation Cup at the Reliance Corporate Park (RCP).
The result helps Stellenbosch book a place in the final of the tournament, to be held with the eventual first-place occupants of Group B at RCP on Friday.Some incredible end-to-end counter-attacking football unfolded in the match as the two teams engaged in a close tussle during the game. The opening half witnessed a goal for both sides. First, Kyle Bailey rounded off a clean finish in the 13th minute to get the defending champions ahead in the contest. However, West Ham responded by earning a free-kick from near the corner flag and sending in a delivery that was neatly put into the back of the net by their forward Liam Jones.They resumed play post the half-time break with similar energy and intensity. Stellenbosch were lethal and efficient in counterattacks as their frontline broke into a swift offensive move as soon as they recovered possession in the backline. They breached West Ham's midfield lines with some slick passing amongst their forwards and Roy-Keane Avontuur pounced on the same to restore Stellenbosch's lead with a left-footed finish in the 41st minute.The Hammers didn't hold back though and straightaway adopted a direct route to seal the equaliser. Their midfield released a long ball to Jones, who chimed in between two Stellenbosch defenders to chip the ball over De Jean Ah-Shene's head to bag his brace for the game.West Ham looked keen to get a foot ahead in the game after having trailed twice. Gideon Kodua set up a fantastic move for them by slipping in a key pass that was put past the goalkeeper by substitute forward George Earthy. Stellenbosch were quick to restore parity, yet again, as they pounced upon the spaces surrendered by the West Ham backline to play an incisive pass to Roy-Keane Avontuur. The forward dribbled past the keeper and kicked the ball into an empty net to bring the curtains down to an absolutely thrilling game of football."Congratulations to Stellenbosch FC. Congratulations to the South African people. I hope we have made them proud back home. The boys are warriors. They have worked so hard to be here. They have put in the hard yards and they have got big hearts. They come from different backgrounds, difficult circumstances and they see this as an opportunity not only for themselves but also to show the talent that we have in our country," Stellenbosch FC coach Evangelos Vellios said after the game."We will prepare for the next match in the same way that we have prepared for the last few games, i.e. with professionalism. We have to show our quality. We are West Ham and our players have to show that (when we step on the field)," West Ham coach Lauris Coggin mentioned post the draw."I don't think we missed anything. The boys showed quality in the opportunities here. The experience, both culturally and on the pitch, to experience different things is why we are here. We are very grateful for the experience," Coggin reflected on their group stage matches. (ANI)