Belfast Telegraph

Chileans keen to snap up hottest Northern Ireland talent

O'higgins side with Irish link keen to sign Northern Ireland player

By Keith Bailie

Chilean club O'Higgins would like to strengthen their Irish links by signing a player from Northern Ireland.

Vice-president Cristian Abumahor, who is currently in the province for the Dale Farm Milk Cup with his club's under-17 team, is keen to give a county player the experience of a lifetime by taking them to South America.

"The club was founded in 1955, the name coming from Bernardo O'Higgins, the founding father of Chile," said Abumahor.

"Bernardo had connections with Rancagua, the region the club is from, so the club was named in his honour.

"Bernardo's father was from Ireland so the link to the club has always been there.

"My family bought the club in 2008 and at that stage we had never won the First Division title, but in 2013 we won it for the first time.

"From the moment we bought the club, we wanted to develop young players and we have a scouting programme in place in Chile, and all over South America.

"Getting players international experience was very important to us and that is where the Milk Cup has been so valuable.

"We have been talking about what we can do with young Irish players. We've discussed it with the Milk Cup organisers and will continue to look into the possibility of bringing a young player to Chile for a year.

"At the moment we are not too sure how we can do it, but it is something we would like to do in the future."

O'Higgins are certainly enjoying this year's trip to the Dale Farm Milk Cup.

The Chileans defeated Orange County Blues 3-1 at Roe Mill, to give them their second win in as many games and if they follow-up by beating Motherwell at The Warren today they should reach the semi-finals.

Elsewhere, County Antrim maintain their 100 per cent Milk Cup record with a 2-0 win over Tyrone in Brougshane.

A victory over Japanese side Higashi tomorrow should also seal their progress into the semi-finals. Yesterday, Higashi lost 4-0 to Strikers in Castlerock.

Damian McNamee's County Londonderry also recorded their second win of the Milk Cup with a 3-2 win over Fermanagh in Portstewart.

Pat McGibbon's County Armagh bounced back from an opening day defeat by beating Columbian side Alset 2-1 in Portrush.

But Down were not so fortunate, John Bailie's lads losing 2-0 to Motherwell at Rugby Avenue.

Ghana side Right To Dream continued to build a formidable reputation by easing past Newcastle United at the Ballymena Showgrounds. After a tight first half ended with teams deadlocked at 1-1, the Africans turned on the style in the second half.

A Newcastle own goal followed by a wonderful finish from defender Ibrahim Sadiq sealed a 3-1 win for the Magpies.

Although, the highlight of the match was a remarkable second-half save from Right To Dream goalkeeper Clinton Bannerman when the score was 2-1.

Lusaka Academy's week went from bad to worse yesterday. After their hellish experience on Sunday that saw them spend a night on the floor of Copenhagen airport, the Zambian side lost their second match of the tournament.

CSKA Moscow beat the African side 1-0 at Clough, which means the Russian side have two wins from two difficult games.

Spanish side Malaga recovered from an opening day defeat to CSKA Moscow by hammering Partick Thistle 5-0 while fellow Spanish side Real Sociedad drew 0-0 with New Zealand side Otago in Limavady.

Last year's beaten finalists Vendee have struggled this year.

The French club followed up their opening day defeat yesterday, by going down 4-1 to Mexican side Club America in the afternoon game in Portstewart.

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