Johannesburg, Monday, 18 March 2013 – Botswana side Young Zebras will return for the third time to the Future Champions Gauteng tournament this year having been popular and successful participants in the past.
The team from Gaborone finished eighth in their first campaign in 2011, with Mathews Moruti a star for them as he finished among the leading scorers. He has gone on to be a start for the Botswana Under-20 side and has a bright future in the game.
The team repeated that eighth place finish in 2012, another fine showing from the side in a campaign in which they played to a 1-1 draw with Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven in their opening game.
â€œWe are honoured to have been invited back to the Future Champions Gauteng tournament in 2013 and are relishing the opportunity to play against some of the worldâ€™s best junior sides. We are very proud of our achievements in this tournament in the past two years and hope to grow that success in 2013. We will come to the tournament with a positive attitude and a spirit of fair play that embodies what we ads a team are all about,â€ says Mr Sonnyboy Sethibe, Botswana Football Association.
Another side from the African continent to be competing in the 2013 Future Champions Gauteng tournament is Bridge FC from Nigeria.
Nigerian football is on a high after the countryâ€™s success in winning the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in South Africa earlier this year, so it is only fitting that a team from that country should be represented at the Future Champions Gauteng.
Bridge FC is more famously known by their previous name, Julius Berger, a team from Lagos that was formed in the 1970s.
They have won the Nigeria league twice, the last time in 2000, and were finalists on two occasions also in the old African Cup Winnersâ€™ Cup.
Some of their more famous former players are Nigerian internationals Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Emmanuel Amuneke, Sunday Oliseh, Taribo West, Rashidi Yekini and Samson Siasia.
The West African nation has an excellent reputation for producing talented young footballers and Bridge FC will bring with them players who are destined for the very top of the game.
â€œWe are proud and excited to send our boys from Bridge FC to this year’s Future Champions Tournament in Gauteng. This wonderful and well thought out concept fits perfectly into our vision for youth development in Lagos State which started with our Under 13 Eko Football Future Stars and has now grown to include Under 17 Eko Football Future Champions.
â€œThis Tournament will not only give our boys a chance to test their skills against other international youth players in their age group but will also enable them make friends from across the world and learn important life skills along the wayâ€ says Mr Seyi Akinwumi, Chairman of Lagos State Football Association.
Now in its fifth year, the Future Champions Gauteng tournament, hosted by Gauteng Provincial Government has become a popular feature on the junior international football calendar and is regarded as one of the most prestigious Under-17 competitions on the junior football calendar.
The Future Champions Gauteng will begin with a group stage, with each of the 12 participating teams divided into four groups of three. Each team will play every other within the group, plus one crossover game with a team from another group.
The group stage matches will take place from Monday, March 25 to Wednesday, March 27, with one game each day. The play-offs and placing games are scheduled for Friday, March 29 and Saturday, March 30.
There were 84 goals scored in 30 matches at the 2012 Gauteng Future Champions, with Marcos Labandeira from Uruguayâ€™s Nacional and Siyanda Ngcobo from Orlando Pirates the top scorers with six goals each.
Atletico Mineiro from Brazil finished as winners for the second year running, followed by Nacional and Zambiaâ€™s K-Stars.
The field of 12 teams for this yearâ€™s event will consist of eight international sides and the four qualified teams from South Africa, who will come out of the 2013 Gauteng Cup. They are SuperSport United, University of Pretoria, Johannesburg Secondary School and SAFA Sedibeng.