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.