Celtic under-15s face world’s elite in China
CELTIC’S under-15s will prove in the coming week that Scottish footballers do still appear at World Cups. The youths will do so by taking part in the 20-team Nike Cup in Shanghai that goes under the name of the Manchester United Premier Cup.
The global brand pull of the Old Trafford team accounts for them being joint-hosts with local club Shanghai FC, one of two Chinese sides competing in a worldwide event.
It justifies that billing through featuring teams from no fewer than six continents, with such stellar names as Inter Milan, Boca Juniors, Santos and Atletico Madrid among the favourites, allied to strong representation from Asia – with teams from Japan, Korea, Thailand and China – as well as South and North Africa, Australia, North America and Europe.
The finals are the pay-off resulting from 9,000 teams competing in 43 national qualifying tournaments. Celitc required to win the24-team British Nike Cup in April to book their place. It speaks volumes for the work being undertaken at their academy that to do so they had to overcome Newcastle United in the quarter-finals, Liverpool in the semi-finals and Chelsea in the final.
The Celtic squad, under the charge of Michael O’Halloran, travelled to China last Tuesday. The draw takes place today, with the 20 teams separated into four groups of five teams.
The top two teams from each group will go forward to knock-out stages, with the final on Wednesday serving as the undercard at the Shanghai National Stadium to the main event of Shanghai Shenhua facing Manchester United.
“We view competing in tournaments as an important part of our players’ football education,” O’Halloran said this week. “It helps prepare them for the future when hopefully they will progress to under-20s and eventually the first-team.
“At this current age-group we don’t play for points or cups domestically.
“It’s also a fantastic opportunity for our players and coaches to pit their wits against opposition that we wouldn’t usually come up against.
“We were able to compete against the very best clubs in England and the knock-on from winning the British tournament is that we get to go up against the best in the world now. Again this will be seen as a fantastic addition to our players and coaches’ development.”
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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