Youngsters defeated in tournament opener

by Stuart Vose

Latest from the Future Champions Cup tournament.

Sunderland’s U16s played well in a narrow defeat to Mamelodi Sundowns in the opening game of their Future Champions Cup campaign in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Monday evening.

An end-to-end game produced a number of chances for both teams, with Sunderland taking the lead thanks to Dan Pybus’ penalty early in the second half.

However, the South African side responded with a pair of goals to take the three points at the Nike Training Centre in Soweto.

A young Sunderland side created plenty of chances against a Sundowns outfit who were a threat on the counter-attack.

The game was goalless at the break with Sunderland keeper Greg Purvis producing an excellent save to keep out a first-half penalty.

Meanwhile, Jean-Yves Poame, Elliot Embleton  and Pybus all threatened at the other end.

Sunderland were rewarded two minutes into the second half when a Sundowns player was penalised for deliberate handball. Pybus stepped up to fire low into the bottom left-hand corner.

The hosts responded with a quick equaliser, with the game opening up as Pybus rattled the inside the post while only a couple of excellent blocks from the Sunderland defence prevented Sundowns from going ahead.

However, a second goal did arrive following a break down the right-hand side to secure the points for the South Africans.

Head of coaching Elliott Dickman said: “We were really pleased with the lads’ performance in a game we certainly didn’t deserve to lose.”

Sunderland are back in action today as they take on Indian side Royal Wahingdoh (KO 1pm GMT).