Shamrock Rovers arrived safely in India on Wednesday ahead of their appearance in the 8 team Sait Nagjee Cup. The tournament kicks off tonight when Brazilian club Atletico Paranease play Watford’s Under 23s in Group A. The other teams in that group are Rapid Bucurest and FC Volyn Lutsk (Ukraine).
The Hoops are in Group B along with the Argentina Under 23 side, 1860 Munich’s Under 23’s and FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (u23’s) of Ukraine. They play Dnipro first on Monday 8th, then 1860 on Friday 10th with their last game against Argentina on the 14th.
Rovers biggest test will definitely be against the Argentina Under 23’s who are among the favourites to win the Gold Medal at this summers Olympic games in Rio. They are managed by ex Barcelona and current Argentina (senior team) manager Tata Martino and were very impressive in qualifying. After missing out on the 2012 Olympics the 2004 Gold Medal winners were determined to be in Rio this summer.
They qualified by winning the South American U-20 Championship last year in fine style, beating old rivals Brazil in the semi.
With the Olympic Tournament being an U-23 event, and the rules allowing for three overage players to feature in each squad, some of the youngsters who helped secure that South American title will be facing Rovers.
Two players who may be involved for Argentina are River Plate striker Giovanni Simeone (pictured below) who is the son of Athletic Madrid manager Diego and was top scorer in the Under 20 continental victory, and Atletico Madrid forward Angel Correa, who chipped in with four goals and was named Player of the Tournament.
Other players who maybe involved to look out for are goalkeeper Augusto Batalla, defender Emanuel Mammana and striker Sebastian Driussi, all of whom featured in the Argentina team that reached the last four at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2013.
The tournament is played on a league basis till February 14th, after that the top two from each group advance to the semi finals. All the matches will take place at the 53,000 EMS Stadium in Kozhikode (pictured below)
Rovers brought a squad of 21 players to India and even if they are eliminated after the group stage they have the option of remaining in the country till the tournament ends on February 21st.
The Kozhikode District Football Association (KDFA) and Mondilal Sports LLP are hosting the tournament which has a $30,000 prize for the winners. A UK based charitable Trust, Football for Peace global (FfP) is the charitable partner along with Aster MIMS in the tournament.
All games in the Nagjee Cup will be live on NeoSportsTV and can be streamed here: http://www.neosports.tv/