It was a case of too little too late for Rosina Sedibane Sport School at the Manchester United Premier Cup world finals.
Despite a spirited performance against Manchester United last night, in which they held the hosts to a goalless draw for their first point in the Under-15 competition, the result – which also blocked United’s passage through to the last eight – was still not good enough for the South African lads to make it through to the knockout stages.
The Pretoria-based school finished bottom of the five-team group and will now go into the play-offs to contest for a respectable finish among the 20 sides competing this year.
They will meet Shandong Luneng from China, who were the tail-enders in Group B.
Prior to their draw on day two, Rosina had lost their opening three matches to Real Madrid (2-0), Ulsan Hyundai (2-1) from Korea and Chilean outfit San Luis de Quillota (1-0). Madrid has qualified for the quarterfinals as group winners while Ulsan advanced as runners-up.
Rosina’s performance against the junior Red Devils left a good impression on former United and Bafana Bafana midfielder Quinton Fortune, who walked up to the team after the final whistle.
“You must be proud of yourselves for holding Man U in their grounds and in their weather. You must keep on working hard if you dream to make it as professional players one day. I worked very hard when I was your age – I was probably the fittest 14-year-old because I trained so hard when I was young. To end up playing for this club means, if I can do it, you can also play for the best in the world.”
Being the first school to qualify for a tournament that is mainly dominated by clubs, Rosina experienced a big gap between them and their opponents in terms of playing standards.
They still need to polish their first touch and communication skills on the field of play.
Meanwhile, yesterday was also the end for Africa’s representatives Right to Dream Academy from Ghana who, despite scoring one of the biggest margins in the tournament, still failed to make it to the last eight.
They beat Shandong Luneng 9-0, but the west African outfit collected just two points in their draws – against Dinamo Zagreb from Croatia and Boca Juniors from Argentina – before they suffered a 2-0 defeat against Italian side AC Milan in their final group fixture.
The final will be played at Old Trafford on Friday as a curtain raiser to Rio Ferdinand’s testimonial match where United will face Sevilla.
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