THIS time last year, Etoile Lusitana of Senegal captured the imagination of the public and helped light up the Milk Cup.
Arriving as an unknown quantity, the tournament debutants soon made a name for themselves with impressive performances in the early games and at the end of the week, left as highly popular winners following their victory over Bolton in the Premier Section final.
Now, a year later they return to the north coast aiming to repeat their success with an entirely new team.
“We know it’ll be very hard for us, because when you play good football and win the tournament, you set a standard for yourself,” said Etoile coach Luis Norton De Matos
“We think we can have a good tournament again, but the most important thing for us is to be here and to gain more experience for the players.
“Last year, we were a new team but this year everyone knows who we are and our games will be much more difficult because everyone wants to beat the holders.
“It is a very strong tournament this year with teams like Manchester United, Tottenham and Bolton from England as well as some very good teams from all over the world.
“It is certainly one of the most important tournaments in the world for this age group.
“Our main objective is to showcase the players’ abilities to the world. Our goalkeeper from last year has already signed a professional contract with Sochaux in France and two players are with Standard Liege in Belgium, while there are some other players who will move to Europe for sure after they turn 18 later in the year.
“The new players here this year all possess great ability and I firmly believe that the best way for them to showcase this ability is a tournament like the Milk Cup.”