SuperCup NI ready to hit the high notes, insists Chairman Victor Leonard
Forty-six young football teams from six continents paraded through Coleraine last night as the SuperCup NI rolled into town.
Clubs from Chile, New Zealand, the United States and Africa were welcomed by the crowds, who lined the streets and filled the Grandstand at the Showgrounds for the opening ceremony.
SuperCup NI Chairman Victor Leonard launched the 34th edition of the famous youth tournament, formerly known as the Milk Cup, alongside local star Jimmy Nesbitt.
Leonard said: "It's fantastic to see so many people lining the streets to welcome these young players from all across the world.
"It was also fantastic to have Jimmy Nesbitt as our guest of honour. Jimmy has also been a big supporter of local football, supporting both Coleraine and Northern Ireland, so it was wonderful to have his support tonight.
"We're expecting five wonderful days of football, with great games in both the Junior section and the Premier section.
"We also launched a new Under-21 section this year, which was won by Everton on Saturday night."
The SuperCup NI's Junior and Premier competitions kick-off today, with 23 games played at numerous venues across the north coast.
The pick of today's games in the Junior Section (Under-15) sees Rangers play County Armagh at the Coleraine Showgrounds (7.30pm) and holders Right To Dream face GPS at the same venue (3.30pm).
In the Premier Section, there is a repeat of last year's final at Broughshane (5pm) between County Antrim and Mexican side Club America, while another big game sees Newcastle United play County Fermanagh at the Ballymena Showgrounds (7.30pm).
But one trophy has already been handed out.
On Saturday evening, Everton beat Celtic 1-0 in the final of the inaugural Under-21 competition.
Both teams defeated Spanish opposition in the semi-finals on Thursday night to set up an all-British final, where Everton's 40th-minute winner was scored by Republic of Ireland youth international Harry Charsley.
Celtic played the last half an hour with 10 men after Anthony Raleston received a red card for a high tackle on Benny Beningamie. Everton Under-21 manager, and former Premier League defender, David Unsworth said: "I'm very proud of this team, their work-rate and effort have been fantastic this week.
"Fatigue sets in when you play two games in three days, but the boys dealt with it well to beat a good Celtic team. We are proud of our youth system. We have five or six youth products in the first team, and the players in this squad are capable of following in their footsteps."
Earlier in the day, Real Sociedad beat Espanyol in the third/fourth place play-off. Sociedad were 2-0 up at half-time thanks to Iker Garmedia and Ander Saenz, but goals from Alejandro Escribano and Marc Huguet made it 2-2.
However, Espanyol's comeback was in vain as Sociedad won the shoot-out 4-3.
Junior: Plymouth Argyle v Alset (12 noon), Clough; Londonderry v Cherry Orchard (12 noon), Roe Mill; North Dublin v Antrim (12 noon), Anderson Park, Coleraine; First Choice v Collina, Noon, The Warren, Portstewart; Southampton v Club Veracruz, 1.30pm, Broughshane; Swindon Town v Chivas, 1.30pm, Castlerock; MS Select v Tyrone, 1.30pm, Rugby Avenue, Coleraine; Strikers v Fermanagh, 1.30pm, Parker Avenue, Portrush; Middlesbrough v Dundalk, 3.30pm, Riada 2, Ballymoney; Partick Thistle v Down, 3.30pm, Anderson Park, Coleraine; Sheffield United v Club NI, 3.30pm, Scroggy Road, Limavady; GPS Bayern v Right to Dream, 3.30pm, Coleraine Showgrounds; Rangers v Armagh, 7.30pm, Coleraine Showgrounds
Premier: Alset v Armagh, 3.30pm, Clough; Osasco v Hibs, 3.30pm, The Warren, Portstewart; Club America v Antrim, 5pm, Broughshane; Down v Lusaka, 5pm, Rugby Avenue, Coleraine; Strikers v Otago, 5pm, Castlerock; Ichifuna v MS Select, 5pm, Parker Avenue, 5pm; Tyrone v Vendee, 5.30pm, Riada, Ballymoney; Londonderry v Mechelen, 7pm, Scroggy Road, Limavady; Real Sociedad v Ponte Preta, 7pm, Seahaven, Portstewart; Right to Dream v O'Higgins, 7.30pm, Riada, Ballymoney; Newcastle United v Fermanagh, 7.30pm, Ballymena Showgrounds