SuperCupNI: County Down left to fly local flag in quest for stunning Premier triumph
It's County Down against the world.
John Bailie’s side are the only Northern Irish side left in the Premier section of SuperCupNI, with teams from Italy, Brazil and Mexico also reaching the last four of the prestigious youth tournament.
The boys from Down will face Mexican City’s Club America today, with Italy’s Serie B Select and São Paulo side GO Audax meeting in the other semi-final.
Down reached the semi-finals of the main competition for the first time by topping Group C in style.
They confirmed their progress with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Desportes Iquique of Chile in Broughshane. The impressive Jake Corbett bagged a brace, with Ross Weatherup also finding the net.
In the same group, Newcastle United defeated Japanese side Inchifuna 1-0 at The Warren in Portstewart.
Down’s semi-final opponents Club America reached the knock-out stage the hard way, disposing of holders Right To Dream.
The Ghanian academy team have been one of the most successful team at the SuperCupNI in recent years. Last year’s Premier winners had hoped to retain their title but Club America ended their campaign with a 2-1 win.
In the same group, Scottish side Partick Thistle defeated County Tyrone 2-1 at the Ballymena Showgrounds.
Italy may not have qualified for this year’s World Cup, but perhaps the future is bright for the Azzurri.
The Serie B Select side won Group D, reaching the semi-finals thanks to an easy 3-0 win over New Zealanders Otago in Limavady. In the same group, County Armagh defeated First Choice Soccer 3-0 at Parker Avenue.
GO Audax just had a little too much for County Fermanagh in their final group game. Espinheira, Almeida and Filho scored for the Brazilians, formerly known as Osaco, as they won Group E.
In the other game in the group, County Antrim turned on the style defeating National Select 3-0 at Scroggy Road in Limavady.
Canadian side FC Edmonton were the unlucky group winners in the Premier section. Although they topped Group A, as the group winner with the worst record they missed out on the semi-finals.
A defeat in the final group game to French side Vendee cost the North Americans dearly.
Vendee recaptured some of the magic that saw them reach them 2014 final by defeating Edmonton 1-0 in Limavady.
Elsewhere in Group A, American tourists Global Premier Soccer drew 1-1 with County Londonderry at the Riada Stadium.