U-19 INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL TOURNAMENT DRAW EXCITES
Written by: Ndumiso Nxumalo
The draw for the 2016 Durban Under-19 International Football Tournament took place on Sunday at Max’s Lifestyle in Umlazi.
The draw features mouth-watering fixtures set to entertain football fans at different venues around Durban next month.
For the first time this year, the tournament will feature other teams from Africa, with TP Mazembe from Democratic Republic of Congo joining South Africa’s Golden Arrows, defending champions Arsenal FC from England, Scotland’s Rangers FC, Sporting Lisbon from Portugal and Fluminense from Brazil.
The South Africa U-19 team and KZN Academy complete the eight teams in the tournament.
Speaking on behalf of the Mayor James Nxumalo, Councillor Dumisani Ngema said the City of Durban was delighted to host the third instalment of this tournament.
“While the tournament provides a great platform to develop our youth in the sport of football, it is also exciting that from this competition projects that will sustain soccer will be built. Part of the role of this International Under 19 Tournament is to fundraise for the development of an international training centre,” said Ngema.
“It will also fast track the players’ levels of competition. We have players like Fagrie Lakay and Nkanyiso Zungu playing in the professional leagues now who got the exposure through participating in the tournament,” he said.
Arrows’ Mandla Ncikazi is also excited to take part in the event.
“It’s a great platform for our young players to gain the experience of playing at this high level of football. It also offers the players the opportunity to compete with their peers from other continents, learn and improve their game,” he said
Having been thrown in the deep end in the first year in 2014 where the KZN Academy faced European giants, AS Roma, Benfica and Boca Juniors, the team fought hard but struggled.
Academy head coach Bongani Yengwa said that last year the team fought gallantly in a tough group featuring eventual finalists PSV Eindhoven and winners Arsenal, as well as Celtic FC, amassing four points (missing out on a semi-final berth on goal difference).
“We look forward to the challenge and the team has demonstrated a steady progress. The main focus in this third edition is to make sure that the team progress to the semi-final stage,” he said.
In this year’s tournament KZN Academy was once again put in a tough Group A against Arrows, Arsenal and Sporting Lisbon.
Group B will feature SA U-19, TP Mazembe, Rangers FC and Fluminense.
Group matches will be played at King Zwelithini Stadium and Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium, semi-finals at Moses Mabhida Stadium and the final at King Zwelithini Stadium.
The tournament takes place from 28 July to 06 August.
*Picture by: Mfundo Mabaso