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Wits To Face Espanyol In The Future Champions Gauteng International Tournament


Gavin Hunt, coach of Bidvest Wits during the Absa Premiership 2016/17 match between Bidvest Wits and Orlando Pirates at Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa on 04 May 2017 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

The tenth release of the esteemed Future Champions Gauteng International Tournament will be staged at the Nike Football Training Center in Pimville, Soweto from 19th to 24th March, commending a time of brilliance as groups from all around the globe compete for the trophy.

The twelve sides that will partake have differentiating styles and football foundations, and beyond the activity on the pitch, it will be a shot for the players in the Under-17 age-gathering to share their social experiences.

Organised by Global Sports International, in partnership with the Gauteng Provincial Government, the tournament will feature five local sides and seven teams from around the world.

The five South African clubs, who earned their place in the tournament after qualifying from the Future Champions Gauteng Cup, are BidVest Wits, Mamelodi Sundowns, Orlando Pirates, Highlands Park and Jomo Cosmos.

The first four teams qualified as pool winners, while Cosmos earned their spot as the team with the next best goal-difference.

They are joined by two sides from other parts of Africa, Nkana FC (Zambia) and Black Africa HopSol (Namibia), who like their South African counterparts will be seeking to become the first side from the continent to lift the coveted trophy.

The remainder of the competing teams are a selection of some of the top sides from across Europe, including Espanyol (Spain), ADO Den Haag (Netherlands), FC Brugge (Belgium), Spartak Moscow (Russia) and AC Reggiana (Italy).

The teams were drawn into four groups each containing three sides and will play each other in a round-robin format, with the top teams in each pool advancing to the semifinals.

The remaining eight sides will play-off to determine positions five to 12.

There has been an added dimension to the Future Champions Gauteng campaign this year with the inclusion of a competition for Safa regional women’s teams and the finalists, Safa Johannesburg and Safa Tshwane, will play as a curtain-raiser to the International Tournament final on 24th March.

“We are delighted to welcome all of our international teams to the Gauteng Province and we know they will enjoy our warm hospitality. This is a chance for these young players to not only develop as footballers, but also learn more about what makes our province and South Africa as a whole such a special part of the world. As we celebrate the centenary of the birth of former President Nelson Mandela, we are reminded about how much affection he had for the youth and what a keen sportsman he was. He knew that the youth are our future and that sport has the capacity to change lives,” says Ms Faith Mazibuko, MEC for Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation.

The Gauteng Department of Education’s director, Mr Cedric Ranchor, has congratulated the organisers on the 10th edition of the Future Champions Gauteng International Tournament.

“The last 10 years has given thousands of young footballers the opportunity to compete at a high level against their peers from all over the world. But beyond that, the various education programmes that have been run in conjunction with the Future Champions Gauteng campaign has given them vital life-skills training that could prove invaluable to them in the future. We applaud the success of the campaign and look forward to helping many more youngsters in the future,” the School Sport Director said.

Tournament Director, Ray Whelan, added: “I must give credit to the Gauteng Province and all of our partners for helping us to reach this, our 10th edition of the Future Champions Gauteng International Tournament. It is amazing to see how this event has grown since 2009 and we are delighted to this year have a competition for young women footballers as well for the first time. We believe we can grow further and are excited for what the future holds.”

“The Gauteng Province has so much to offer visitors in terms of entertainment, not least from our soccer clubs, who are known around the world. We pride ourselves on being a premier sports tourism destination across all different codes and hope that our visitors for the 2018 Future Champions Gauteng International Tournament take in the vibrant sights and sounds of our wonderful province,” said Nonnie Kubeka from the Gauteng Tourism Authority.

Chief Executive of the South African Football Association (Safa), Dennis Mumble, says they are happy the competition has also recognised the growth of women’s football.

“In the development of any young footballers it is important to expose them to contrasting styles and ways of playing the game and for all teams that compete at the Future Champions Gauteng International Tournament this will be the case. What is even more exciting is that there will be women’s teams participating, which indicates the high growth of women’s football. We are hoping to have more next year and beyond, but this is a good start.” Mumble says.

“This is officially the third year that LaLiga has been supporting this project with Spanish teams featuring in recent years. This year we are delighted to have Espanyol participating. A club with a rich history, Espanyol will provide further competitive edge and a new challenge to this year’s Future Champions tournament. Like past years, we’re excited to see which players and coaches will be selected to join in on the trip to Spain for further training and exposure.” said Antonio Barradas, Africa Director for LaLiga.

“The fixtures announcement made today further adds to the excitement and it’s with great satisfaction that we can continue to lend our support to South African football development at grassroots level. Developing the game throughout different parts of the globe, South Africa included, is something that is in line with our overall global strategy at LaLiga,” concluded Barradas.

THE DRAW

Group A

Highlands Park
Jomo Cosmos
Club Bruggel

Group B

Mamelodi Sundowns
Nkana FC
ADO Den Haag

Group C

Orlando Pirates
Black Africa Hopsol
FC Spartak

Group D

Bidvest Wits
AC Reggiana
Espanyol

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