DUBAI: Lega Pro of Italy will commence the defence of their title when they take on Al Wasl on the opening day of the Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Under-19 International Football Tournament at Al Ahli Club grounds at 6.30 pm on Saturday.
In the day’s first match, Dubai Club will take on hosts Al Ahli at 4.30 pm at the same venue.
Argentina’s Boca Juniors, Spanish giants Valencia FC and defending champions Lega Pro are the three outstation teams joining the five Dubai clubs participating in the third edition of the annual junior tournament that is meant to foster and encourage football talent at the junior level in the UAE.
Group B consists of Valencia FC, Boca Juniors, Al Nasr and Al Shabab and all preliminary round matches will be played at Al Nasr Club.
Each of the teams will play each other once to decide the top two teams in each group for the knock-out semi-finals. Each team will be allowed to field two unregistered players on a trial basis only during the course of the tournament.
In addition to the winner’s trophy and medals, there will be individual prizes including for the best goalkeeper and highest scorer and a Fair Play Cup for the most disciplined team.
On April 7, Boca Juniors will face Al Shabab while Al Nasr will take on Valencia FC at the Al Nasr Club. The two semi-finals will be played at Al Nasr Club on April 13 followed by the third place play-off and final at 5 pm on April 15.
The annual tournament, being held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Sports Council, is being sponsored by Kia Motors, Saif Belhasa Holdings ,B360 Watches, Dewa, Rotana Rehyaan& Arjan. “We are all set to go for this competition that is part of our vision to encourage junior footballers in the UAE,” said Ali Omar Al Balooshi from organisers Dubai Sports Council.
“We expect stars such as Diego Maradona and Michel Salgado to attend matches and that would be wonderful for the confidence of the young footballers,” the DSC official added.