The final draw for the Durban under 19 International Football Tournament was held at the Workshop Shopping Centre.

The final draw for the Durban under 19 International Football Tournament was held at the Workshop Shopping Centre. The draw signaled the advanced state of readiness of the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, eThekwini Municipality and South Africa Football Association (SAFA) to host this world class football tournament.

Running from 31 July to 09 August 2014, the tournament will draw a number of well-known international youth teams such as Benfica from Portugal, Boca Junior from Argentina, Everton from England, Feyernoord from Holland, Roma from Italy and Brazil’s Santos. They’ll be joined by the SAFA under 19 National Team and the KZN Academy XI.

Attending the draw were SAFA NEC member Nomsa Mahlangu, eThekwini Municipality’s Speaker Cllr Logie Naidoo, Head Coach of the under 20 National Team Shakes Mashaba, Kaizer Chiefs Striker Siyabonga Nkosi and Bafana Bafana star Siyanda Xulu.

The eight participating teams were drawn into two groups for the group stage, with the KZN Academy XI playing at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Clermont and SAFA under 19 National Team playing at Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu.

Naidoo said eThekwini is known for successfully hosting major events and the draw was to show that as the City we are very much ready to host this prestigious tournament.

“We are very pleased to open up our infrastructure that is part of the FIFA 2010 World Cup legacy for this tournament. Since the double headers will be played during the tournament, the playing venues are being prepared to have capacity for high utilization,” said Naidoo.

Mahlangu said Safa is proud of this initiative and congratulated the City and KZN Government for being the only region in South Africa to host such a tournament. “SAFA is in full support of this tournament because we know that we cannot do it alone. We need support from all stakeholders, including parents, children and community at large to develop our football.”

Speaking on behalf of the Provincial Government, Sandile Qwabe said the event provided a great opportunity for the young players to showcase their skills at an international event.

“We strongly believe that this tournament will give our boys a sense of what it means to represent the hopes and dreams of a country when they take to the field. Ultimately, this should be a catalyst for their natural progression to play for Bafana Bafana one day. KwaZulu-Natal continues to attract international sporting events and we are confident Durban will make us proud as the host of the U19 international soccer tournament,” said Qwabe.

Mashaba emphasised the importance of development in achieving a winning senior national team.

“If we want to win the World Cup we must start with development. As South African teams we must win this tournament. We must start winning tournaments like the Cosafa under 20 Tournament and the Africa Cup of Nations before we go out to the world.”