Cosmos claim 8th spot as Future Champs tournament comes to a thrilling climax

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Cosmos winger, Zuko Gxabuza (yellow strips), in action against Black Africa Hopsol

Jomo Cosmos finished 8th as the 10th edition of the annual Gauteng International Future Champions U17 tournament came to a thrilling finale last weekend.

Seven teams from Africa and five from Europe engaged in six days of exciting football to the delight of ecstatic fans at the Nike Football Training Centre in Soweto.

At the end of it all, Ezenkosi boys emerged as 8th best team of the tournament after losing four games and winning one.

In the final match of the competition also decided last Saturday, Belgium’s Club Brugge defeated ADO Den Haag of the Netherlands 4-0 to win the crown for the first time.

DAY ONE (JOMO COSMOS 0-1 HIGHLANDS PARK)
Cosmos opened up the tourney against Highlands Park in a thrilling Group A game that could have gone either way. However, the young Lions of the North prevailed in the end, nicking the tie through Siya Mamkela Ntame’s first half goal following Eric Tivane’s assist.

DAY TWO (NKANA FC 1-0 JOMO COSMOS)
Cosmos were reduced to 10 players midway through the first half when goalkeeper Thapelo Mosehla got his marching orders for handling the ball outside the box. Nkana utilized their numerical advantage at the death when Yoram Chanda scored to secure maximum points for the Zambians.

DAY THREE (JOMO COSMOS 0-1 CLUB BRUGGE)
The game against Belgium’s Club Brugge was always going to be a crucial one after Cosmos had lost their opening two matches. The Belgians also lost their first game to Mamelodi Sundowns but bounced back to beat Highlands Park. Cosmos had this game under control and contained the Europeans in a cagey first half period. Ezenkosi winger Zuko Gxabuza was a delight to watch as his dashing runs put Brugge’s defence on the back foot. However, the opening minutes of the restart was a nightmare as striker Gabriel Lemoine capitalized on a defensive blunder to settle the score as Cosmos lost their third game in a row.

DAY FOUR (CULTURAL TRIP)
Day off for all participating teams. A very wet and rainy day as we take a trip to FNB Stadium “Soccer City” then on to Nelson Mandela’s house on Vilakazi street in Soweto. Later we took off to Lesedi Cultural village in Lanseria where we were entertained by dancers from various South African cultural troupes. Lastly we visited the Lion and Safari Park in Broederstroom before heading back to Kopanong hotel.

DAY FIVE (JOMO COSMOS 1-0 BLACK AFRICA HOPSOL)
At last, Cosmos won their first game of the tournament, beating Namibian side Black Africa Hopsol thanks to substitute Gontse “Bazooka” Molefe who converted Archibold Molefe’s pass in the 20th minute of the encounter. The score line did not reflect the pace of the game as Cosmos dominated for long spells but could not convert their glaring superiority into goals.

DAY SIX (JOMO COSMOS 0-1 MAMELODI SUNDOWNS)
Both sides playing for position 7 and 8 in the competition. Sundowns came out all guns blazing in the opening minutes but were curtailed by a well-organized Cosmos backline. However, with only three minutes left to play, the young Ezenkosi defence finally crumbled when Thato Matli found space to slot the ball home.

HOW THEY FINISHED
1. Club Brugge (Belgium)
2. ADO Den Haag (Netherlands)
3. Bidvest Wits (South Africa)
4. Spartak Moscow (Russia)
5. Nkana FC (Zambia)
6. Orlando Pirates (South Africa)
7. Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa)
8. Jomo Cosmos (South Africa)
9. Highlands Park (South Africa)
10. RCD Espanyol (Spain)
11. AC Reggiana (Italy)
12. Black Africa Hospol (Namibia)

-Mark Ogagan

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