The 2014 Durban Under-19 International Football Tournament is expected to be an excellent showcase of the country’s talent when the tournament kicks off next month.

The 2014 Durban Under-19 International Football Tournament is expected to be an excellent showcase of the country’s talent when the tournament kicks off next month.

This new and exciting addition to South African youth football development will take place in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, from 31 July to 9 August.

The country will see a newly formed SA under-19 national side, under the watchful eye of Shakes Mashaba competing in the showpiece, along with internationals giants Santos (Brazil), Boca Juniors (Argentina), Everton (England), Benfica (Portugal), Feyenoord (Netherlands) and Roma (Italy).

In addition to that, a region of South Africa that has given SA some of the greatest names, KwaZulu-Natal, will be represented by the KwaZulu-Natal Academy who will compete as representatives of the host province.

The coach of the South African side, Mashaba says that development is the cornerstone of every successful footballing nation.

“It is crucial. Without the proper structures in place then you cannot hope to bring through players with the correct technical ability and the right mentality to succeed,” Mashaba says. “We have faced enormous challenges in the past, but it is something at SAFA we are trying to put right.

“Hopefully with this new initiative we are now on the right path to that successful development structure.”

Mashaba says the 2014 Durban Under-19 International Football Tournament could be a huge stepping-stone in the careers of players hoping to represent South Africa at the FIFA World Cup in Russia in 2018.

“This is an overdue tournament for this age group; it came at the right time. These are the building blocks for our future senior national team,” he says. “As we work toward Russia, these are the players to take us there.

“We want the public to give these young guys the support and courage to realise their potential because by the time Russia comes, they will have gone through all the channels including the [2016] Olympics.”

Farouk Khan, who’s Stars of Africa Academy, has produced South African internationals such as Tokelo Rantie, May Mahlangu and Tefu Mashamaite, among others, says South Africa has a long way to go to catch up with the likes of Brazil and Spain in terms of development, but believes with new initiatives such as the Under-19 International Tournament, the country is on the right direction.

“It is competitions such as the 2014 Durban Under-19 International Football Tournament that will help South Africa to accelerate its progress in the sphere, as well as the new development plans of SAFA that will see more activity for the junior national sides.”

“Bringing together different styles of play, not just on the playing field but also the training pitch, is good when developing players,” says Khan.

The Sugar Ray Xulu and Princess Magogo stadiums will host both group stages with the semi-finals at King Zwelithini Stadium. The 2010 World Cup venue Moses Mabhida Stadium will host the final.

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