Top youth teams head for Durban

2014-07-23 00:00

SIX international teams will descend on KwaZulu-Natal over the next week to take part in the Durban U19 International Football Tournament.

Teams from Santos (Brazil), Feyenoord (Holland), Everton (England), AS Roma (Italy), Boca Juniors (Argentina) and Benfica (Portugal) will join two local sides — a KZN Academy XI and a South Africa U19 — in the tournament that runs from July 31 to August 9.

The format will see the sides divided into two groups of four, with the top two in each group progressing to the semi-finals.

Group A includes the KZN Academy side, Boca, Roma and Benfica while Group B sees the SA U19s take on Everton, Feyenoord and Santos. The matches in Group A will take place at Princess Magogo Stadium while Group B will be decided at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium. The semi-finals will be played at King Zwelithini while the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium will host the August 9 final.

The 20 members of the KZN Academy side were unveiled at a ceremony at Mabhida yesterday, and the team’s technical director Paulo Cardoso spoke of the difficulty in selecting the final squad.

“This is a dream come true. It is the start of a vision and this tournament is just a starting point,” he said.

“We spent 47 straight days on the road and we watched more than 2 000 players in 11 districts.”

An initial shortlist of 175 players was then formed before the trimming left 20 youngsters as the province’s representation in what is the first youth tournament of this magnitude to reach South Africa.

“This is a chance for KZN players to show what they can do but also a good chance to see how far behind we are from the top clubs around the world,” said Cardoso, who added that he was “realistic” about his side’s chances.

KZN Academy fixtures:

July 31 – AS Roma

August 2 – Boca Juniors

August 4 – Benfica

Group A: KZN Academy XI, AS Roma, Boca Juniors, Benfica

Group B: SA U19, Santos, Feyenoord, Everton.

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