TEAMS from the African continent have always brought their own sense of flair to the Future Champions Gauteng International Tournament and this year there will be four more sides hoping to become the first African winners of the prestigious event.
The Future Champions Gauteng International Tournament will take place at the Nike Football Training Centre, Pimville, from March 23-28.
Returning for a record seventh time will be Zambia’s K-Stars, who have featured in every event since the inception of the project in 2009 and been among the leading African contenders on a number of occasions.
They reached the semi-finals in both 2011 and 2012 and have always been popular participants.
The club is owned by Zambian legend Kalusha Bwalya and has a reputation for producing top talent in the country. Indeed, the club has already given a number of players to the Zambian junior national team.
They finished sixth last year and will expect to be among the leading teams again in 2015.
Appearing for the first time is Ghanaian side Asante Kotoko, who are considered the top side in the powerful West African nation.
They have won the Ghana domestic league Championship a record 24 times and have won the African Champions League twice before as well.
They are a powerhouse of the region and count current national team stars such as Harrison Afful, Samuel Inkoom and Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, as well as legends Samuel Kuffour and Tony Yeboah among their former players.
It is almost certain that future Ghana international players will be on view with the team in 2015.
Asante Kotoko will not be the first Ghanaian side to appear at the Future Champions Gauteng International Tournament, that honour went to Nania FC in 2012.
Competing for the first time from Mozambique will be Ferroviario de Maputo, who are a team with a rich 90-year history and have eight Mozambican Championships to their name.
Their list of former players includes Mozambique internationals Danito Cuta, Paulito and former Portugal star Alberto Costa Pereira who would go on to have a stellar career with giants Benfica.
The team is based in Maputo and will be the first side from the country to compete at the Future Champions Gauteng tournament.
Adding spice to this year’s tournament will also be Oryx Football Club, a Namibia team made up of some of the best players from the Southern African nation.
It will be the first time a team from South Africa’s neighbors has entered the event, but of course there have long been close football ties between the two countries.
There are many Namibian players who have featured in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League and the country continues to produce top talent for the region.
Entrance to watch the games is free, with the action beginning at the Nike Football Training Centre from Monday, 23rd March 2015.