The annual U17 Boys National Championships kick off in earnest on Wednesday, 8 July 2015.

The annual Under-17 Boys National Championships kick off in earnest on Wednesday, 8 July 2015. The matches will be played from 8 – 12 July at the Nike Football Training Centre in Pimville, Soweto.

Nine provinces as well as three invited club sides, Mamelodi Sundowns, Mpumalanga Aces and Bidvest Wits will battle it out for the top honours.

The draw for the 2015 event, which was attended by most of the teams, was held at Fun Valley on Tuesday night (7 July).

Also present at the draw was SAFA National Executive Committee member Anthony Reeves.

“If you look at our U17 and U20 National Teams, those squads are made up of players selected from such a tournament – Thendo Mukumela (U17 midfielder) is now in the Mamelodi Sundowns programme, Nelson Mpoto (U17 goalkeeper), Nelson Maluleka (U17 midfielder and captain – Supersport), Athenkosi Dlala (U17 midfielder – Supersport). We are happy that SAFA has done this and also invited clubs to be part of this thereby exposing the players to national selectors and coaches,” said Reeves, who is also the President of SAFA Johannesburg.

Also at the draw was the head coach of the South African Men’s U20 National Team, Thabo Senong, who is also the assistant coach of Bafana Bafana.

“This is a great initiative by the South African Football Association (SAFA) because this is where we source our players for the U17 and U20 National Teams. If the players exert themselves fully, if they play very well, if they show their talent and abilities they have the opportunity to be seen by selectors. But also they have the chance to be spotted by scouts from different clubs, so this is a very good tournament,” said Senong after the draw.

“SAFA is trying to integrate where the best must play against the best. Players are coming from all corners of the country and those from Western Cape, for instance, will face off against Bidvest, which is good as these players will get to develop socially and emotionally.”

Senong will be working alongside three scouts – Zunaid Mall, former Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates midfielder Helman Mkhalele as well as former Kaizer Chiefs midfield maestro Donald “Ace” Khuse.

“It’s a great opportunity for me as the head coach of Amajita, it makes things easy for my talent identification and scouting. It is very good to do this from a centralised area as we don’t get much time to travel as much as we can because we have a big country, so this is one opportunity that we always cherish because we get the chance to identify the best talent in one place,” added Senong.

“This tournament also vital in that players spend six to seven years in their own familiar surroundings, but they must travel around and interact with players from different provinces, learn from others and see how others approach the game of football. They also get to gauge their performance against their peers from different provinces and this will definitely fast track their development.”

This is the second edition of the tournament.

“It gives us great pleasure as the Association to be able to stage this event again as we cannot have a stronger Bafana Bafana if we don’t take care of our development structures. This is a great opportunity for these young boys to showcase their talent and for us to continue with the conveyor belt in making sure our junior national teams up to the senior national team are well-resourced,” said SAFA President Dr Danny Jordaan.

“We cannot just leave it to the head coach of Bafana Bafana to make this country a strong playing nation – it starts at the bottom and we also have to play our part by providing the platform. We are certain that at the end of it all, our national teams will be richer with the abundance of talent that will be on display. May the best team win.”

In the draw, the three invited clubs have deliberately been kept apart to make the tournament more exciting.

Group A sees Mamelodi Sundowns together with Limpopo, Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape.

In Group B Bidvest Wits will lock horns with North West, KwaZulu Natal and Free State.

In Group C Mpumalanga Aces will battle it out for the naming rights against Mpumalanga as well as host province Gauteng and the Western Cape.

Group A
Mamelodi Sundowns
Limpopo
Eastern Cape
Northern Cape

Group B
Bidvest Wits
North West
KwaZulu Natal
Free State

Group C
Mpumalanga Aces
Mpumalanga
Gauteng
Western Cape

NB:

• After the group stages, teams finishing top of their group as well as the best placed runner up will qualify for the semi-finals
• A match will be two halves of 30 minutes with a ten-minute break in between
• In the knockout stages, if there is a tie, the match will move directly to penalties – there will be no extra time played
• The above rule will also apply in the final

Day 2 – Wednesday, 8 July 2015 (Group Stages Fixtures)

Match No: Field Time
3. Mpumalanga Aces vs Gauteng – B 09h00
4. Mpumalanga vs Western Cape, A 09h00
1. M. Sundowns vs Eastern Cape – A 10h30
2. Limpopo vs Northern Cape, B 10h30
5. Bidvest Wits vs KwaZulu Natal – A 12h00
6. North West vs Free State – B 13h00
7. M. Sundowns vs Limpopo – B 15h00
8. Eastern Cape vs Northern Cape – A 15h00
9. Mpumalanga Aces vs Mpumalanga – B 16h30

Day 3 – Thursday, 9 July 2015 (Group Stages Fixtures)

Match No: Field Time
10. Bidvest Wits vs North West – B 09h00
11. KwaZulu Natal vs Free State – A 09h00
12. Western Cape vs Mpumalanga Aces -A 10h30
13. Mpumalanga vs Gauteng – B 10h30
14. Northern Cape vs Mamelodi Sundowns – B 12h00
15. Limpopo vs Eastern Cape – A 13h30
16. Free State vs Bidvest Wits – A 15h00
17. North West vs KwaZulu Natal – B 15h00
18. Gauteng vs Western Cape – A 16h30

Day 4 – Friday, 10 July 2015 (Knockout Stages Fixtures)

Match No: Field Time
SEMI-FINAL 1
19. Winner Group B vs Winner Group C 09h00
SEMI-FINAL 2
20. Winner Group A vs Best-Placed Runner Up 11h00
3rd/4th Place Play-Offs
21. Loser Semi-Final 1 vs Loser Semi-Final 2
Day 5 – Saturday, 11 July 2015
(REST DAY)
Day 6 – Sunday, 12 July 2015
FINAL
22. WINNER SEMI-FINAL 1 (19) vs WINNER SEMI-FINAL 2 (20) 09H30

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