Johannesburg-Bidvest Wits twice came from behind to defeat Mamelodi Sundowns and lift the 2018 Future Champions Gauteng Cup trophy at the WJ Clements Stadium in Reiger Park, on Sunday.
The Young Clever Boys triumphed 5-3 on penalties after the teams had played to a thrilling 2-2 draw in the decider, their second title having last won the competition, now in its 10th year, in 2011.
Sundowns took the lead through Tlotlego Pitso, but were pegged back when Mbongeni Kanyane equalized for Wits.
Pitso, who finished as tourney top-scorer with 6-goals, looked to have won the game for Sundowns when he added his second, but Simphiwe Mabena levelled again for Wits, who then held their nerve in the shoot-out.
The four pool winners from the tournament have all qualified for the prestigious Future Champions Gauteng International Tournament that will be staged at the Nike Football Training Centre in Pimville from 19th to 24th March.
There they will join some of the top academy sides in the world and Highlands Park, Sundowns, Orlando Pirates and Wits will seek to become the first South African winners of the top junior competition.
Earlier on Sunday, Wits edged Highlands Park in a tense semi-final fixture that ended 0-0, with The Clever Boys taking the tie 5-4 on penalties.
The other semi-final was equally tight as tournament joint top-scorer Cassius Mailula converted a penalty for Sundowns, but Bongani Monabeng netted for Pirates to take the game to spot-kicks.
But it was Sundowns who came through the shoot-out as Riandre Vries and Tlotiso Ndziwa were the only two players to net their penalties in a 2-0 win for The Brazilians.
Pirates then picked up the bronze medal when they defeated Highlands Park 3-2 on penalties after another 1-1 draw.
Lance Makambi netted for the Young Buccaneers but they were pegged back by a goal from Santino Smith for Highlands
Park that took the game to a shoot-out.
The two days of action showed the quality of junior sides in the Gauteng Province and started with the pool stages on Saturday.
Highlands Park qualified from Group A on Saturday with three wins, the decisive victory being a 2-0 success over School of Excellence, who were runners up in the pool.
Sundowns were in a close run for Group B by both SAFA Johannesburg and SuperSport United, but ended top of the pool with two wins and a draw.
The decisive result in the pool was Sundowns’ 2-0 win over SAFA Johannesburg, but they were held to a 1-all draw by Tshwane rivals, SuperSport.
Group C was another tight one, but Pirates edged the pool, with one of their two wins coming against Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs as they secured a 1-0 success.
Chiefs in the end could only manage 3rd place, with Clapham High School finishing as runners-up in the pool.
Wits stormed through Group D, winning all three of their matches and proving the most prolific side in front of goal in the first round with 13 goals scored and just one conceded.
Jomo Cosmos were runners-up in the pool with two wins, but were up against it when they lost their opener to Wits.
There was also a Gauteng Cup women’s competition played for the first time in 2018 between four teams, with the final to be staged as a curtain raiser to the Future Champions Gauteng International Tournament final on 24th March.
Zara Walker scored a hat trick as SAFA Johannesburg emphatically booked their place in the decider with an 11-0 win over an Ekurhuleni Invitational side.
They will take on SAFA Tshwane, 2-1 winners over SAFA Ekurhuleni with Paballo Chela and Lethabo Ledwaba on target.