Ghana boys miss out on hitting their premier target
Strikers rip up script but african academy still eyes a bright future
Right to Dream's ambition of becoming the first team to win both the Junior and the Premier Section in the same year was shattered yesterday afternoon, when the Ghana side lost 2-0 to American side Strikers.
That shock defeat allowed La Liga side Real Sociedad to join CSKA Moscow, Club America and County Antrim in the last four.
Antrim's 2-1 success over Japanese side Higashi means they are in both the Junior and the Elite semi-finals.
Despite their Premier side's surprise defeat, Right to Dream Academy Director Gareth Henderby was in positive form.
He believes the prestigious football school is a force for good in Africa.
Until yesterday's wobble the boys from Ghana had taken the Dale Farm Milk Cup by storm. It's perhaps no surprise considering the residential academy have already won tournaments in England and Holland this year.
Henderby was keen to explain the Academy's philosophy.
"The Academy was started 15 or 16 years ago by Tom Vernon when he moved to Ghana.
"I moved to Ghana around the same time and over the years it's grown, and grown and grown.
"We have approximately 92 students in the academy just now with our first ever Girls' Academy in Africa, too. We've grown into a world-class academy, which is backed up by our results.
"It's a fully residential academy so we give the kids a good education as well. It is a Cambridge-accredited school so they basically go through the English education system. We have a world-class character development programme which is pretty unique. We place a lot of emphasis on everything we do with their education."
The West African Academy scout over 20,000 players per age group.
"We always knew there was unbelievable potential in Ghana, with the raw talent in the country and all over West Africa where we have players from," added Henderby.
"It's how you make that raw talent into world-class talent and we had to get the right structures in place to do that.
"We have a recruitment department which do a fantastic job. They recruit approximately 20,000 players a year for a new group to come into the academy.
"So from that 20,000 from all over Africa, it can be whittled down to 15 or 16."
Russian Giants CSKA Moscow booked their place in the semi-finals of the Dale Farm Milk Cup with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Londonderry in Ballymoney.
The Moscow side have a 100% record after wins over Malaga and Lusaka. The Riada Stadium result ended Ollie Mullan's side hopes of reaching the last four.
County Antrim ensured they were in the last four with a win in Portrush. Japanese side Higashi gave them a fright by taking the lead with their first goal of the tournament, but Andy Hunter's boys fought back to win 2-1.
Mexican side Club America defeated OC Blues from California 2-1 at Castlerock to seal their semi-final place. That win saw them leapfrog Londonderry, O'Higgins and Right To Dream.
And Real Sociedad reached the last four with an impressive 3-0 win over Alset at the Ballymena Showgrounds.
Chilean club O'Higgins missed out on goal difference after managing only a 2-2 draw with Scottish club Motherwell in Portstewart.
Elsewhere, John Bailie's County Down claimed their first win of the Milk Cup in Roe Mill. They defeated last year's beaten finalists Vendee 3-1.
Fermanagh lost 2-1 to Malaga, while Newcastle United beat Tyrone 4-0 and Armagh beat Otago 2-0.
After a horrible start to their Milk Cup experience, Zambia side Lusaka bounced back from their visas problems to claim their first win of the tournament. The Africans beat Partick Thistle 3-1 at Rugby Avenue.