The best of China and Canada’s emerging football talent will be strutting their stuff in this summer’s Elite Dale Farm Milk Cup.
Since the curtain came down on Northern Ireland’s world famous international youth football tournament last year, organisers have been hard at work on the 2014 event.
In their commitment to attract new competitors, landing a national team from both nations at Under-20 level is quite a coup.
The Chinese have sent clubs sides to the event in the past and current U-20 national coach, former China international striker Li Bing, had a spell at the Liaoning club who have participated at the Dale Farm Milk Cup before.
China’s invovlement is exciting news for the event’s new sponsors as leading dairy business Dale Farm have been successful in securing trade with China as part of its successful export drive.
Canada’s first ever appearance at the Milk Cup will provide new coach Robert Gale with his first challenge since taking up the reins at the beginning of this month.
Gale, who had spells with Fulham and Wycombe Wanderers as a player, has been in charge of Canada’s under-16s, 17s and 18s and is excited by the Milk Cup challenge.
“First of all, it gives our group tournament experience which is huge before going into World Cup qualifying. It’s the first time that the group will be together in a tournament combining our U-18 group with the U-17s who went to the U-17 World Cup in 2013 so it will be a chance to assimilate them and really test ourselves in the rhythm of competition,” says Rob.
“We feel that we can be as competitive as anybody there and it’s also a great opportunity for individuals to test themselves against other elite players. It’s also an opportunity to showcase individual talent.”
Gale is hopeful he can secure the services of Michael Petrasso and Dylan Carreiro who are both in the Queen’s Park Rangers set up. Petrasso has gained first team experience on loan with Oldham Athletic and Coventry City in the past few months.
“I think we have a lot of quality throughout our squad so I hope people watching in Northern Ireland and beyond will be pleasantly surprised at the talent level of Canada,” adds Rob.
The Dale Farm Milk Cup begins with the traditional parade of competing teams through Coleraine on Sunday, July 27, concluding with finals night at Ballymena Showgrounds on Friday, August 1.
In addition to title sponsors Dale Farm, Northern Ireland’s largest dairy company, the Dale Farm Milk Cup is supported by the four Councils of Coleraine, Ballymena, Ballymoney and Limavady, with BBC Sport NI as broadcast partners.