The Engen Knockout Challenge Johannesburg draw took place in Parktown on Wednesday evening, with the teams yet again expected to serve up a tough, competitive tournament.
Considered the toughest of all the regional tournaments, the Johannesburg leg will see the proverbial cream rising to the top come 27 July 2018.
Big guns Kaizer Chiefs, who went as far as the semifinals last year, avoided their Soweto neighbours but could not avoid familiar opposition as they were pitted against Highlands Park, Jomo Cosmos and host club Wits Junior AFC in Group A.
The boys from the capital, Pretoria managed to attract each other like magnets as Mamelodi Sundowns, SuperSport United, as well as University of Pretoria (Tuks), joined Dlamini Experience XI in Group C.
Defending champions, Stars of Africa, who went on to clinch the Engen Champ of Champs as well last year, drew Shumba Academy, Randburg AFC and Rosina Sedibane. What may look like a routine group for the holders, could turn into a tricky affair if they do not bring forward their A-game at Wits Marks Park Sports Complex.
Bidvest Wits are also not expected to have it all their own way in Group D, which comprises of Orlando Pirates, Platinum Stars and Black Aces.
SuperSport United midfielder Teboho Mokoena, whose journey started at the Engen Knockout Challenge with Harmony Academy said the secret recipe is the boys doing hard work after training when nobody’s watching.
He said hard work on skills and discipline outside of training would bode well for the budding youngsters even when they’ve followed him and graduated into the Premier Soccer League professional ranks.
“What’s important is how you handle yourself when you come into the tournament and how you prepare yourself,” said Mokoena.
“They have to work hard. We look at players like Cristiano Ronaldo and we want to be like them but what are we doing to become like them?”
The scene is set for local fans to witness youth football at its best.
Johannesburg Draw Results:
Highlands Park FC
Wits Junior AFC
Stars of Africa Academy
University of Pretoria (Tuks)
Dlamini Experience XI