Sundowns youth show that SA is on par with the best says Bishop

SA’S NOT TOO FAR BACK MAMELODI Sundowns head of youth Shawn Bishop does not think the level of football in South Africa, compared to what he has seen from the international teams at the Gauteng Future Champions International tournament this week, is lagging too far behind. Sundowns’ under-17s boys have done well in this competition, overcoming three international teams in Sunderland, Royal Wahingdoh from India and a

USA Select team to finish top of group D on nine points. They have qualified for today’s semi-finals, where they will come up against Brazilian side Atletico Mineiro. “First thing I noticed is that the level of our players is not far off from the international youth players. In terms of technical ability the boys are not far off and that’s a good thing,” said Bishop. Sundowns have scored eight goals in the group and have just conceded once. Against Mineiro, however, their defence will be tested. The Brazilians hammered SuperSport United 5-2 in the group stages on Monday, and scored three more goals in their last two group phase matches. They have won this competition twice before and are currently on a mission to reclaim the trophy after Mexican outfit Club Tijuana dethroned them last year. “The boys are really excited to pit themselves against previous winners of this tournament.

The Brazilian team looks good and they are certainlly going to give us a challenge. We are looking forward to the game,” Bishop said. Sundowns play an attacking brand of football, so too does Minen-o, which makes the tie all the more enticing. Bishop says he has been watching the Brazilians closely this week and it has helped him to prepare for today’s semi-final. The one man Sundowns will look to stop is Mineiro’s tall striker Flavio, who bulldozed the SuperSport defence. “We have watched all their games in the tournament. They play the ball quickly to to their big number nine, so we need to look out for that.” In the other semi-final today, defending champions Tijuana take on Congolese club CESD La Djiri. Tijuana, who beat English club Everton in the final last year, finished top of group C to keep their hopes of reclaiming the trophy alive. They finished the group on seven points, and are favourites to progress to the final. La Djiri, though, cannot be underestimated. MY BALL: Dosel Lalrautkima of Wahingdoh and Mpumelelo Hlatshwayo of Mamelodi Sundown in a tussle for possession during their Future Champions Gauteng match.


  • We had a wonderful football and cultural experience in Gauteng. The tournament and activities were very well organized and we found everyone involved extremely helpful and accommodating. We have all returned home with fantastic memories of our time in South Africa, both on and off the pitch, and have made many new friends as a result of the trip. I hope that we are invited to participate in future tournaments.

    Everton Academy Head Coach
  • The experience both on and off the field for our players during the Future Champions tournament in Gauteng was life-enriching for all those who participated. We were privileged enough to win this edition but what will be bringing us back in future is the cross-cultural education our players receive from spending time with athletes from all over the world. They are human beings before they are football players and enriching them with other cultures is as rewarding as the experience they receive on the field.

    Club Tijuana Director of Football
  • After twenty years of experiencing tournaments around the globe, Future Champions is hands down the best organized, well run International Tournament we have ever participated in. Bringing teams from dozens of different countries provided our boys exposure to cultural diversity they only read about in textbooks. It’s amazing how sport can be the cultural link that provides the opportunity to interact with each other and discover that our global community is a bit smaller than they realized. We had a football and cultural experience that will be cherished for the rest of our lives.

    Director of USYSA Select
  • For us to compete in Future Champions is much more than playing a series of matches. It is an opportunity to compete and contrast our level against the best teams from around the world and the possibility of living in another culture and environment for an unforgettable week, learning about the history of the fight for human rights.

    Director of Aspire Academy
  • The addition of a girls’ competition this year is a natural expansion for what has become a hugely popular event. Over and above the football, the players are also exposed to life-skills courses and HIV/AIDS awareness that could end up saving their lives in the future. We have had an amazing partnership with the Gauteng Province over the last decade and we thank each and every stakeholder for making the Future Champions Gauteng campaign such a huge success

    Tournament director