SUPERCUPNI: Intriguing pairings in draw

Gareth Fall (second right), representing Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council at the SuperCupNI draw, with guest of honour tournament graduate Andrew Waterworth, The Linfield striker, tournament chairman Victor Leonard and compere Jackie Fullerton.
Gareth Fall (second right), representing Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council at the SuperCupNI draw, with guest of honour tournament graduate Andrew Waterworth, The Linfield striker, tournament chairman Victor Leonard and compere Jackie Fullerton.

In spite of last year’s event pulling in massive crowds, tournament chairman Victor Leonard has high hopes for another memorable SuperCupNI this summer.

At last week’s draw he said the 2017 competition would live long in the memory for a number of reasons, not least the high standard of football.

“Our gate receipts at the 2017 competition were up by 20% which was massively encouraging,” he said. “Weather-wise and football-wise we witnessed one of the best competitions in years.

“We have been on an incredible journey and over the last 36 years we have witnessed quite a few changes. Everyone is really looking forward to a tremendous week of football.”

This year’s competition will see five different categories competed for – the U17 Premier section, the U15 Junior section, the U13 Minor section, a girls’ competition and the U19 Challenge game between Manchester United and Celtic, which will take place on Saturday, July 21 at the Coleraine Showgrounds.

The draw for the Junior and Premier section of the 2018 Super Cup NI was held at Belfast International Airport.

This year’s competition will see teams from 15 nations from across the globe represented at the competition.

In total 40 teams will compete in the U15 (Junior) and U17 (Premier) section at the tournament, which is scheduled to get underway at the end of July.

Crowd pullers Manchester United were the first name out of the hat and the Old Trafford youngsters have been placed in a tough group with Rangers FC, 2017 semi-finalists Club NI and County Londonderry.

There’s an all-county affair in Group C as County Fermanagh take on County Antrim, with Plymouth Argyle and Chivas Guadalajara from Mexico completing their group.

In the Premier section defending champions Right to Dream from Ghana will face the team they defeated in the final last July. They will take on Club America from Mexico and their group is completed by Scottish side Partick Thistle and County Tyrone.

Group E will see Russian outfit Spartak Moscow take on Brazilian side Osasco, County Antrim and County Fermanagh.