Manchester United, Rangers, Benfica and CSKA Moscow are top attractions as the Dale Farm Milk Cup expands into the Derry City Council area.
After Institute’s Riverside stadium at Drumahoe successfully hosted games featuring Liverpool and Northern Ireland last year, the organisers of the international youth tournament have accepted an invitation to stage two matches in Brandywell.
Tournament chairman Victor Leonard said: “This is a follow on from the excellent response to the matches at Drumahoe during the City of Culture year of events in the Maiden City.
“Derry City Council had opened discussions with us about playing games in the city and we have agreed. There is always been a passion for youth football in Derry and surrounding area so we feel the football fraternity will back our games.”
It is a significant coup for Brandywell to secure a visit from Manchester United’s representatives in the Premier tournament for players under 17.
“United are defending champions and a massive draw at all our venues,” said Victor. “The fact they will play CSKA Moscow makes for an interesting game on the last day of qualifying for the knockout stages.”
The other city side match features Canada and China in the Elite tournament (U-20). The Brandywell games are on Wednesday, July 30, with a 5pm kick off for the Elite game and a 7pm start for United and CSKA.
Institute will host Rangers against Co. Armagh in the Junior tournament at 7pm on Monday, July 28, with Benfica tackling Co. Tyrone the following evening also at 7pm.
The Rangers game marks the Glasgow club’s return to the competition after more than 20 years.
“We know there is considerable interest in Rangers return and they will attract huge support,” added Leonard.
“In addition we have several cracking games scheduled for Limavady this year so I think we can safely say that the football will be flowing!”
Football fans suffering withdrawal symptoms after the World Cup in Brazil in July will quickly find a cure when Northern Ireland’s own world cup in the guise of the Dale Farm Milk Cup kicks off in the North West on Monday 28th July.
County Londonderry’s Junior’s start their campaign on Monday, July 28 when they face Scottish side Motherwell, at Anderson Park, Coleraine (KO 12noon); then they face County Antrim on Tuesday, July 29 at Riada Stadium, Ballymoney (KO 1.30pm), before finishing their Group matches on Wednesday, July 30 when they face Premier League side Southampton, at Scroggy Road, Limavady (KO 1.30pm).
While in the Premier Section County Londonderry face Cherry Orchard on the Monday at Roemill Limavady (KO 5pm); they then take on Premier League side Newcastle United at the Showgrounds, Coleraine, on Tuesday, July 29 (KO 8pm) and they finish their group with a test against Funabashi HS, at Riada Stadium, Ballymoney (KO 7pm).
Fifty six teams from the world’s leading professional clubs, famous football academies and National Associations from all five Continents descend on the five local authorities of Coleraine, Ballymena, Limavady, Ballymoney and Derry City to battle it out over five days hoping to end the week as Dale Farm Milk Cup champions in the Elite (under 19), Premier (under 17) and Junior (under 15) sections.
Manchester United commence the defence of their Milk Cup crown in the Premier Section against leading youth team, Gold Coast Academy from Australia at Coleraine Showgrounds on Monday followed on Tuesday with their game against Co Armagh at Riada Stadium in Ballymoney, before finishing at the Brandywell.
Newcastle United, Benfica, Espanyol, Chertanovo Football Academy from Moscow, Lusaka Football Academy from Zambia, Orange County Blues from California, Bohemian FC and Cherry Orchard from Dublin as well as the six County teams from Northern Ireland are among the other teams involved in the search for the champions crown during the week.
In the Junior Section, present holders, Everton will play Middlesbrough on Monday at Castlerock, crack Brazilian side, Corinthians at Anderson Park on Tuesday and finish their qualifying games against Co Fermanagh on Wednesday at Ballymena Showgrounds.
All the fixtures for the opening three days of the event at Elite, Premier and Junior levels are now finalised and they can be found at www.dalefarmmilkcup.com.
The competition begins with the traditional parade of teams through Coleraine on Sunday, July 27, ending with finals night at Ballymena Showgrounds on Friday, August 1.