English giants Arsenal have been crowned 2015 Durban Under-19 International Football Tournament champions after a 2-1 success over Dutch side PSV Eindhoven in this past weekend’s final at the magnificent Moses Mabhida Stadium.
The victory was well-deserved for an Arsenal side who entertained with some brilliant football through the tournament.
The South African Under-19 side provided some joy for local fans when they claimed third place with a 2-0 win over German Bundesliga side Stuttgart.
But the day belonged to Arsenal, who could also afford to miss a penalty as they became the second champions of what is now one of the most prestigious junior football tournaments on the international calendar.
Arsenal were given the lead in the first half thanks to a magnificent strike from Ben Sheaf, his third goal of the tournament to take him level with Galatasaray’s Mohammet Yesilyurt as the leading scorer in Durban.
And what a goal it was too as he picked up the ball 35-yards out and thundered his strike into the top corner of the net.
But PSV have shown themselves to be a resilient force in this year’s competition and they bounced back with an equaliser from Rigo Dante.
That set up a grand-stand finish and it looked as though the game would be headed for a 1-1 draw before French winger Yassin Fortune grabbed a winner for the Gunners.
He beat the offside trap and held his composure to beat the goalkeeper with a low finished.
That was enough for Arsenal to claim the gold medal and show themselves to be this year’s best in the Durban Under-19 International Football Tournament.
South Africa Under-19 picked up the bronze medal with a 2-0 win over Stuttgart to end their tournament on a fantastic high.
It was a tightly-contested third-place playoff, but the South Africans produced two fine goals to take the win.
Masilake Phoglongo grabbed the opener with a well-taken shot midway through the first half, as South Africa went into the break with that slender lead.
They made it 2-0 when some hesitant defending from the Stuttgart defence allowed Keletso Makgalwa to score.
The home side were comfortable to holding onto their lead after that, much to the delight of coach Thabo Senong.
The Durban Under-19 International Football Tournament is in its second year, with the inaugural winners being Brazilian side Santos, who defeated Portuguese club Benfica 2-0 in the final.
The competition was once again a huge success, with some excellent football played by some of the top junior players in the world.