THE 2013 Future Champions Gauteng will draw in teams from across the
globe for the annual Under-17 international tournament that this year
will include Club Tijuana from Mexico and K-Stars of Zambia.
They will join other top teams from around the globe in a 12-strong field
for this year’s event, which promises to once again be one of the highlights
of the junior international football calendar.
Club Tijuana is a relatively new club having been formed in 2007. The club
competes in the Mexican top division and were crowned winners of the 2012
Apertura championship. They are coached by the Argentine tactician Antonio
The players are mostly home-based, but are also drawn from Colombia,
Argentina and the USA.
“We are excited to compete and not only give our players vital experience on
the field, but also off the pitch. Travelling to the Gauteng province for
this event will be crucial in their development as they understand the
demands of being a professional footballer and hopefully learn some life
lessons too. Meeting players from all over the world and from different
cultures allows our players to grow immensely,” says Roberto Cornejo, Club
Returning for the third year in succession is Zambian side K Stars, who have
reached the semi-finals on both their previous visits to the competition.
They reached the semi-finals of the 2011 Future Champions Gauteng, before
eventually losing to Russian outfit Rubin Kazan and finishing fourth. They
ended one better in third position in 2012 as they defeated PSV Eindhoven in
the play-off match for that position.
The club is owned by Zambian legend Kalusha Bwalya and has a reputation for
producing top talent in the country. Indeed, the club has already given a
number of players to the Zambian junior national teams.
“The boys are excited and thrilled to be coming back to the Future Champions
Gauteng. It is an event that our boys look forward to every season. We
know that the competition will be tough, but having come close before, we
are coming to win it this year,” says Erick Mwanza, K Stars.
The Future Champions Gauteng tournament will begin with a group stage, with
each of the 12 participating teams divided into four groups of three. Each
team will play every other within the group, plus one crossover game with a
team from another group.
The group stage matches will take place from Monday, March 25 to Wednesday,
March 27, with each team playing one game per day. The play-offs and placing
games are scheduled for Friday, March 29 and Saturday, March 30.
There were 84 goals scored in 30 matches at the 2012 Future Champions
Gauteng, with Marcos Labandeira from Uruguay’s Nacional and Siyanda Ngcobo
from Orlando Pirates the top scorers with six goals each.
Atletico Mineiro from Brazil finished as winners for the second year
running, followed by Nacional and Zambia’s K-Stars.
The field of 12 teams for this year’s event will consist of eight
international sides as well as Mzansi’s own Supersport United, AmaTuks,
Johannesburg Secondary and SAFA Sedibeng.