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.
PICTURE: NTOMBI NTEKELE/JUSTUS MEDIA
L O G O S: NIKE – SOCKS