NewswireToday - /newswire/ -
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, 2007/01/17 - The Indian leg of the Manchester United Premier Cup (MUPC), for under-15 footballers, was won by East Bengal FC.
On 9 January 2007, the Manchester United Premier Cup 2007 India final tournament was formally launched All India Football Federation secretary Alberto Colaco and Mr Sanjay Gangopadhyay, Marketing Director, Nike India.
At the opening ceremony, Mr. Alberto Colaco lauded Nike's commitment. ''The AIFF is extremely happy with our partnership with Nike, who have shown true commitment towards elevating football in India. By organizing grass root level initiatives, such as the Manchester United Premier Cup, they have certainly helped in promoting the game in India.
"Last year Mohun Bagan did us proud by making it to the world finals and this year too we hope to have a winning team that will prove that India has brilliant talent in the field of football,'' he said before declaring the tournament open.
The ceremony was followed by an exhibition warm up & training exercise conducted by Premier India Football Academy (PIFA) coach Nirvan Shah (a FA qualified coach). Two members from each of the 15 teams were invited to participate along with children of the Bollywood star’s – Sharukh Khan, Govinda, Paresh Rawal & Sunil Shetty.
Western India Football Associations on behalf of AIFF hosted the teams at BHA facility and conducted the tournament. All players had to undergo medical tests to verify their age.
The teams were divided into four groups and played a league. Group A comprised of Mohun Bagan, Vasco, Goa, J & K Football Academy and Sikkim Football Academy; Group B was made up of Mahindra United, SBH Singh Football Academy, Goa United Sports Academy and Mohammedan Sporting. Group C had East Bengal, Pondicherry Football Academy, Providence Football Club and Velsao Pale SC while Group D comprised of JCT Football Academy, MDFA Academy, Simla Youngs and Eastern Sporting Union.
The Mahindra United team boasted of players trained by PIFA coaches - Kean Lewis, Karan Sawhney, Shilton D’silva, Manohar & goal keeper Sagar Padhare.
The playoffs were held at Goan Sports ground from January 10-11. The group leaders played the semifinals at Cooperage ground on January 12. The semifinalist were Mohun Bagan vs East Bengal (0-2) & Mahindra United vs JCT Football Academy (4-1 tie breaker)
On January 13, the Indian football captain, Mr Bhaichung Bhutia was the chief guest for the final day. The stands were packed, largely dominated by Mahindra United fans.
At half time the audience were treated to a football aerobic warm-up choreographed by Anjali Shah of PIFA and performed by 16 children from her academy.
The Mahindra United lost the finals was won to East Bengal in the 31st minute by a solitary goal from a brilliant free kick taken by Biswajit Natta.
The champion team EAST BENGAL FC will be flown by Nike to represent India in the South East Asia finals from May 28 to 31. The location for the finals will be decided later. The SEA regional winners will join 19 teams from around the world to play for the World Finals.
PIFA Director, Mr Nirvan Shah had this to say – “The NIKE - Manchester United Premier Cup is undoubtedly the best national tournament professionally organized for children. The tournament gives an opportunity to academies to show their talented players at the tournament for the Federation to take notice. This also gives the children the much needed match experience at an early age. We only wish that many more academy teams can participate, hopefully that should happen next year.”