It’s all systems go for the third instalment of the Durban Under 19 International Football Tournament to be held in Durban from today, Thursday 28 July to 6 August.
All participating teams have arrived in the City with English giants, Arsenal Football Club - who are in Group A - being the first team to arrive on Tuesday to defend the title they won last year.
The tournament will kick off this afternoon with South African side, Lamontville Golden Arrows taking on Sporting Lisbon of Portugal at 14h15 at King Zwelithini Stadium, followed by KZN Academy XI against Arsenal at 16h30.
Group B matches start on Friday with Brazillian side Brazilian side, Fluminense Football Club taking on TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo at 14h15 at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Clermont. In the second encounter the National Under 19 Team will battle Glasgow Rangers at 16h30.
The teams were officially welcomed to Durban at the official welcome dinner held at Moses Mabhida Stadium last night (Wednesday, 27/07).
Addressing the dinner, MEC for Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation Bongi Sithole-Moloi said the hosting of the tournament gives local youth exposure to competition against players from the best international football academies.
“Department of Sport and Recreation – on behalf of the Provincial Government - has been a partner in this project for the past three years and we see this as a perfect vehicle to harness talent through a proper developmental pathway,” she said.
“Through this tournament local players received invaluable experience by competing against players who are trained in some of the best academies in the world. We believe that it is only by exposing our players to international competition at a young age that we can succeed in our quest for our province to regain its glory as the main suppliers of talent for the Premiership, senior national teams and the international market.”
Speaker of eThekwini Municipality, Logie Naidoo, said the event showcases the City’s ability to host major events.
“This is the tournament where stars are born. In the near future we are hoping to see some of the players representing their senior national teams at the World Cup,” he said.
The Goalkeeper Coach of Arsenal Football Club, Jayson Brown, said that they were excited to be part of the tournament again.
“We are back in South Africa to defend our title and we have brought back some of the players that participated in the tournament last year to ensure consistency. We had our first training at Moses Mabhida outfields today and our boys are both physically and mentally fit for their opening match against the host KZN Academy XI,” said Brown.
Entry to all the matches is free.