Tiro van Rooyen praises young Masandawana boys after Engen tournament success

Mamelodi Sundowns U-19 boys showed their class over the weekend as they were crowned champions of the Engen Knockout Challenge in Gauteng at the Marks Park Sports Ground. The young Masandawana boys prevailed over TS Galaxy in the final, winning 5-4 on penalties.

The Sundowns youngsters dominated Group A thanks to a 1-0 win over Randburg AFC. They followed it up with a 2-0 victory over Remember Elite Sport Academy (RESA) and a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Wits FC.

As a result, they reached the quarterfinals, where they defeated Panorama FC 2-0. In the semifinals, the young Masandawana boys beat Orlando Pirates 1-0, setting up a mouthwatering final against TS Galaxy.

Both sides had equal chances of sealing the victory during the match, but some quality defending and goalkeeping from either side resulted in the title being decided on penalties, which went Sundowns’ way with a 5-4 victory.

Assistant Coach Tiro van Rooyen was full of praise for the boys, who approached the tournament with determination after losing out to Kaizer Chiefs in last year’s final.

“The experience of losing in the final last year served as a powerful motivator for the boys. It ignited a fire within them and fueled their determination to rectify any shortcomings. They approached this year’s tournament with a renewed sense of purpose and an unwavering commitment to leave nothing behind. This success represents a crucial stepping stone in their journey toward reaching the next level of their development. Their progress not only has the potential to benefit our Elite teams but also holds the potential to make a significant impact on our First Team in the future,” van Rooyen stated.

Coach Tiro also highlighted the key lessons gained from the prestigious football development tournament.

“Throughout the tournament, it was evident that the boys had learned from the past and embraced the challenge with a newfound hunger. As coaches, we are deeply moved by the range of emotions that surfaced throughout the tournament. Witnessing the determination, passion and resilience displayed by the boys has been nothing short of inspiring. It serves as a powerful reminder of why we are involved in coaching—to witness the growth and triumph of our players, both on and off the field,” van Rooyen stated.

Gosiame Ngobeni and Thato Sibiya were named Striker and Defender of the Tournament respectively, something which further excites the Sundowns youth coach.

“Across the games, we had several unsung heroes as the team performed exceptionally well. Congratulations are in order for the determination and character displayed by the boys and they all deserve recognition. I would like to commend the club for the unwavering support we received, from the First Team coaches to everyone who came out to support us. I must also acknowledge and express gratitude to everyone within the Yellow Nation Family, as their encouragement and backing played a significant role in our success,” Coach van Rooyen concluded.

On the lessons gained at the tournament, teenage sensation Matlhatsi Mampane said, “Firstly, I learned the importance of discipline, specifically being punctual, as it demonstrates respect for teammates and coaches while establishing a foundation for team cohesion. Secondly, I realized that teamwork is the cornerstone of success, as supporting and guiding one another leads to a stronger and more accomplished team. Lastly, the demanding schedule of playing two games a day taught me to conserve energy and rely on my mental abilities to identify spaces on the field, enabling me to make intelligent decisions and optimize my performance.”

Victory for the Masandawana boys means they have now secured a place at the Engen Champ of Champs later this year.

Congratulations to our young and brave boys and girls.