Sunward, SSU bow out

But Mamelodi Sundowns are still in it after impressive wins
AS HIS players trudged off the pitch yesterday, Sunward Park High School coach Thabo Senong tried his best to motivate them. “Don’t look down boys, you tried,” he said as he gave them each a pat on the back. The Sunward Park boys had just played to a goalless draw with Qatar’s Aspire Academy on the second day of the Future Champions Gauteng tournament yesterday. It’s actually a good result, considering Aspire are renowned worldwide for their sports development. But such is the determination of Senong’s boys they felt they could have sneaked a win against their more fancied opponents.


The boys from the East Rand certainly gave it their all, pressing forward as they made their opponents from Qatar look ordinary. It was Sunward’s first point in the 16-team competition after they squandered a one-goal lead on Monday to lose 2-1 to defending champions Club Tijuana, from Mexico. Sunward are in group C and will face Nigeria’s Saki West in their last group game, but they have no chance of qualifying for the knockout phase. “It was a good game. We played against a big academy in Aspire. It was not easy, but the most important thing here for us is development, the progression of players to professional football. We are preparing the players for the professional game. We are happy with the performance of the boys in the competition,” Senong said. Meanwhile, Mamelodi Sundown beat the USA Select team 30 yesterday after their impressive 21 win over Sunderland on the opening day on Monday. Sundowns top group D with six points, four ahead of second-placed Royal Wahingdoh, who drew 0-0 with Sunderland yesterday. Sundowns, who have already secured their place in the semis on Friday, face Wahingdoh today. In group B, SuperSport United lost 2-0 to K-Stars, ending their hopes of making it to the knockout phase. The young Matsatsantsa boys were beaten 5-2 by Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro on Monday, and could not improve against Kalusha Bwalya’s K-Stars, who secured victory thanks to goals from Patson Daka and Enock Mwepu. SuperSport, coached by former senior team captain Ricardo Katza, play Dutch club ADO Den Haag today. The top teams in the four groups will qualify for the semi-finals, while the rest will play for positions five to 16. AIMING HIGH: Anslin Williams of Sunward Park left, and Mohamed Al Kuwari of Aspire Academy, right during the Future Champions Gauteng at Nike Centre in Soweto yesterday.

  • 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