“We’ve got a good chance of qualifying,” believes Kaizer Chiefs Under-17 coach Donald ‘Ace’ Khuse ahead of the Future Champions Gauteng Cup set to take place this weekend at WJ Clemments Stadium in Reiger Park.
Kaizer Chiefs’ Under-17s need to navigate their way out of Group C which consists of Jomo Cosmos, SAFA Tshwane and Reshogofaditswe Secondary School. Many would consider the draw to have been kind as the youngsters have avoided facing Bidvest Wits, Orlando Pirates or Mamelodi Sundowns until at least the semis.
Chiefs’ Under-17s will take on Jomo Cosmos at 11:00 on Saturday, 16 March. The second fixture against Reshogofaditswe Secondary School will follow at 13:00. The group decider against SAFA Tshwane will be at 16:00.
“With the side that we have assembled, we have the quality to go through,” continues Khuse. “However, we won’t be heading there with the thought of undermining other teams.”
The Future Champions Gauteng Cup pits several professional academy sides against regional and top high school teams, whose participation began in the preliminary qualifying rounds. With sixteen teams split into four groups, the group winners will automatically qualify for the prestigious Future Champions International Tournament.
The youth tournament is hosted annually at the Nike Centre in Soweto and has an enviable list of past winners. Club Brugge (Belgium), Atletico Madrid (Spain) and Torino (Italy) are some of the international sides to have lifted the coveted Future Champions International Tournament trophy. A local side is yet to lift the trophy.
“We’ll have to take it one step at a time,” adds a wary Khuse. “We missed out on the last two editions of the Future Champions International Tournament, but the boys have worked hard to prepare for this one.”
Representatives from the last edition that Kaizer Chiefs’ Under-17s qualified for, included the likes of Nkosingiphile Ngcobo, Wiseman Meyiwa and Njabulo Blom. All these Kaizer Chiefs Youth Development Academy graduates have gone on to join the first team.
When asked who of his players will be part of the next wave to join the first team squad, Khuse showed full confidence in his players by saying: “The whole team”.
The former Chiefs midfielder furthermore divulged that first team squad goalkeeper, Bontle Molefe, will be one of the players to watch over the weekend.
The WJ Clemments Stadium in Reiger Park, Ekurhuleni, will host the Future Champions Gauteng Cup which will see the group fixtures take place on Saturday while the knockout rounds will take place on Sunday.