With less than 30 days remaining until the start of the 2015 Durban Under-19 International Football Tournament, excitement is building as some of the top junior teams from around the world prepare to descend on KwaZulu-Natal.
The prestigious competition, now in its second year, will be played from 29th July 29 till 8th August 2015, at four venues across the city that were upgraded as part of the legacy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup – The Princess Magogo Stadium in Kwa-Mashu, Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Claremont, King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi and magnificent renown Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban Central will be used to stage an event.
Once again there will be some top talent on show; English Premier League giants Arsenal will compete for the first time and bring with them an academy side that has a number of players tipped to be future international stars.
The Gunners have been a steady producer of magnificent footballers and who play an attacking and entertaining style of football. The club also has a large following in South Africa.
Top Italian Series A side AC Milan will also bring their array of young stars to the competition and will be among the favourites to take home the title. Italian football is well respected in world football and the standard of the players on display will be of the highest quality and fascinating for the neutral observers.
Dutch football is also renowned as the best in the world for developing young players and current Dutch Eredivisie champions PSV Eindhoven will showcase their next generation of young stars.
PSV take over from compatriots Feyenoord, who competed in Durban last year.
There will be another championship team on display when current Scottish league holders Glasgow Celtic bring their young stars to South Africa.
Celtic are a legendary institution in European football and along with city rivals Glasgow Rangers, generally produce the bulk of the players for the Scottish national side, making it almost certain we will be watching future internationals in Durban.
Likewise for Turkish side Galatasaray, who have a long history of producing international players, but who also have had a number of top stars join their senior team. Turkish football is about passion and flair, and that will be on display in abundance.
The last of the international competitors will be German Bundesliga side Stuttgart, one of the most successful clubs in the country’s rich footballing history.
Two local teams – the South African Under-19 national team and a KwaZulu-Natal Academy XI, will join these six sides, to showcase some of the best up-and-coming South African talent on display and also give the youngsters a superb opportunity to impress against major international clubs.
The eight sides will be split into two groups each containing four teams, with the top two sides in each pool advancing to the semi-finals.
The current champions are Brazilian side Santos, who defeated Portuguese side Benfica 2-0 in the inaugural final in 2014.