THE men have been separated from the boys and Ivory Coast remain as Africa's only hope to lift the Free State province's 32 Schools Mini World Cup as the tournament moves into the quarterfinal stage in Odendaalsrus today.
Ivory Coast, represented by Louis Botha High School, face a mammoth task in this group of eight as they square up to the buzzing Italy (Metsimaholo High) in a game that is expected to produce fireworks.
The event, which is being run under the auspices of the South African Schools Football Association (Sasfa) in conjunction with the Free State department of sports, recreation, arts and culture, kicked off in February and is aimed at promoting awareness of the 2010 Fifa World Cup being hosted in Mzansi from June 11 until July 11.
Tournament favourites Australia (Harmony Academy) are in for a torrid afternoon as they come up against an on-fire Uruguay (Evungweni) after both teams scored five goals in their group of 16 games. Australia beat Algeria (Mamellang Thuto) 5-0 while Uruguay beat South Korea (Cedar) 5-2.
Another humdinger is in the offing as the evenly matched Switzerland (Kgoro ya Thuto) and Paraguay (Lere lathuto) clash. It would come as no surprise if the match is decided in extra time or on penalties.
The last game sees France (Ntsu) facing a stubborn Serbia (Kutlwanong) in what will be a no-holds barred encounter.
The tournament is co-ordinated by former Durban Bush Bucks and Kaizer Chiefs striker Mike "Sporo" Mangena. The semifinals are slated for May 14 in Bloemfontein.