India’s premier football club Mohun Bagan will clash with the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United in one of the world’s biggest under-15 football tournament – the Manchester United Premier Cup.
The tournament, which has been the launch pad for Brazil’s Robinho and Argentinian superstars like Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez, will feature top 20 clubs, rehashed from 8000 teams all over the world. And Mohun Bagan is one of them!
The under-15 team of the Kolkata-based outfit beat rival East Bengal to become the champions for the Indian-leg and then went on to overpower Singapore Schools 2-0 in the final of the Asian Zone qualifier to book their berth at the elite U-15 event.
Speaking to HindustanTimes.com, AIFF president Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi described it as ‘a great day for Indian football’.
“Never has an Indian team been able to participate at the premier level since Independence. This is a first for Indian football and undoubtedly will dare us to dream big.”
A jubilant Dasmunshi also sounded confident that India would be able to play at the World Cup in not too distant future. “With this kind of incredible talent waiting in the wings, we hope to qualify for 2014 FIFA World Cup.”
Mohun Bagan colts will be one of only five Asian teams which have made it to the world finals -- the other four being Bulleen Lions from Australia, Beijing Sanfang FC from China, Tokyo Verdy from Japan and Ulsan Hyundai FC from South Korea. Incidentally, even clubs like Bayern Munich and Real Madrid failed to make the cut!
The tournament, hosted and organised by Manchester United in association with Nike, will kick off from Tuesday, August 8. The teams will be divided in four groups and two from each pool will advance to the quarterfinals.
Mohun Bagan players will get to train and rub shoulders with the Manchester United team which includes ace playmakers like Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo to sharpen their skills and possibly motivate them to clinch the title at Old Trafford.
Squad: Tirthankar Sarkar, Amit Saha, Malswamzuala, Bhaskar Ghosh, Raghunath Murmu, shouvik Chakraborty, Sanjoy Boro (c), Biswadeep Das, Suman Bose, Lalrozama Fanai, Dudipta Banerjee, Rajib Bhattacharjee, Shubhankar Dey, Dipendu Dowary, Lalrinmuana David and Bapi Chowdhury.
Officials: Shyamal Banerjee (coach), Dipak Bera (Physical Trainer)