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Rediff.com  » Sports » Mohun Bagan get tough draw

Mohun Bagan get tough draw

August 08, 2006 17:33 IST

Kolkata club Mohun Bagan have been drawn in a tough Group 'A', in the elite Manchester United Premier Cup (Under-15) football championship alongside the hosts and two previous champions -- Athletic Club Bilbao from Spain and Sao Paulo FC of Brazil.

Hungary's Ferencvarosi TC is the fifth club in the group.

The draw for the biggest Under-15 football tournament was released at the world famous 'Theatre of Dreams', where some of the world's top footballers turned up to light up the evening.

Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Alex Ferguson were all present to meet the stars of tomorrow.

The 20 teams have been drawn in five groups, with Italian giants Inter Milan and FC Brussels Molenbeek from Belgium in Group 'B' and Arsenal featuring in Group 'C'.

The teams went through a rigorous qualifying stage involving more than 9,000 teams from five continents over the past 12 months. The Mohun Bagan Under-15 side is one amongst them to survive the qualifying heat and reach the finals of the tournament.

Bagan is one of the five teams from Asia playing in the championship, the others being Bulleen Lions from Australia, Beijing Sanfang FC from China, Tokyo Verdy from Japan and Ulsan Hyundai FC from Korea.

The tournament kicks-off on Tuesday at United's training facilities at Carrington while the final will be played at Old Trafford.

Footballers went down memory lane and remembered their journey to stardom.

"I remember, as a kid sometimes I got nervous on the big occasions, but the best way to combat this is to try and relax; just think of it as a game you play with your friends," said Ferdinand.

"This is a great tournament and to get to this stage you have all done well. If you then get to the final and play in this wonderful stadium it would be a fantastic achievement; so you just need to go out there, enjoy yourselves and do the best you can," he said.

Sir Alex Ferguson spoke of the dedication and sacrifices needed to get to the top whilst Sir Bobby Charlton, who earned 106 caps and netted a record 49 goals for his country, shared his view on the true meaning of
sportsmanship to tumultuous applause.

"Respect each other You must also respect the referee. You may not always agree with the decisions he makes but he has a very difficult job to do. Don't try and cheat and dive; if you are going to win please try to do it properly. I think that is important.

After defeating Indian U-15 rivals such as East Bengal, Tata Football Academy and Mahindra United in March, the Mohun Bagan colts secured qualification by winning the second stage, held in Bangkok. They defeated strong opponents from Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. In the final, they beat Singapore Sports School 2-0 in May to make it to the Manchester tournament.

The draw:

Group A: Manchester United; Ferencvarosi TC; Athletic Club Bilbao; São Paulo FC, Mohun Bagan Athletic Club

Group B: FC Internazionale Milano; FC Brussels Molenbeek, Chivas Guadalajara;
Orlando Pirates FC; Bulleen Lions.

Group C: Arsenal; Hertha BSC Berlin, Universidad Catolica; Ohio FC Mutiny; Ulsan Hyundai FC.

Group D: Boavista FC; FC Basel; Club Atletico Lanus; Beijing Sanfang FC; Tokyo Verdy 1969.