U18s set for Italian Job
Posted by nickogs20 on March 29, 2009
United’s academy side will be heading to Northern Italy next month to participate in the Torneo di Calcio Memorial Claudio Sassi.
The Memorial Claudio Sassi is a prestigious and ambitious youth football tournament held in the Northern Italian province of Modena, and 2009 sees the 19th annual hosting of the event. The tournament was originally established in 1991 as the Torneo Internazionale di Calcio Giovanile Enzo Ferrari, in honour of the legendary racing driver and founder of Ferrari, who hailed from the city of Modena. When the Ferrari family decided to withdraw permission to name the tournament after the late Enzo in 1998, the tournament was renamed as a tribute to local entrepeneur Claudio Sassi, who had passed away the previous year. Sassi was heavily involved in football throughout his life, both as a promising player in his youth and as president of U.S. Sassuolo, one of the tournament’s host sides (the other being Modena F.C.).
The tournament spans four days (this year from April 10th until April 13th) and features 64 teams across five age groups – Under 10, Under 12, Under 14, Under 16 and Under 18. More than 1100 players will participate in 111 games held in 25 venues throughout the province of Modena, with the opening three days featuring group games and semi-finals and the last day featuring all five finals. The competition’s prestige has steadily grown over the years, with teams travelling from all across the globe to participate – the likes of Barcelona, Valencia, Werder Bremen, Borussia Dortmund, Dynamo Kiev, Porto, Anderlecht, Newcastle and West Ham from Europe, as well as teams from Japan, Mexico and the USA. All the big names in Italian football have been regular participants as well.
With no academy fixture scheduled for Saturday 11th April, the opportunity has presented itself for the Reds to participate in the tournament for the first time. Paul McGuinness and his young charges will compete in the U18 section, for which players must be at least 16 years old AND born after the 1st January 1990 to be eligible to play, although teams are allowed to include three ‘over-age’ players born in 1988 or 1989 in their 18-man squads. Matches are 70 minutes long, with 35 minute halves and a ten minute interval. Coaches are allowed to use all seven available substitutes in matches, offering McGuinness a great opportunity to involve his whole squad in the proceedings and get all 18 players some match practice and tournament experience.
Eight teams will compete for the U18 title, initially divided into two groups of four. The top two in each group proceed to the semi-finals, with the winners of those matches obviously meeting in the final. United have been drawn in Group A, alongside Danish side Aalborg BK (familiar opponents for MUFC this season), F.C. Chiasso of Switzerland and host side U.S. Sassuolo, while Group B comprises Dutch giants Ajax and three Italian teams – Virtus Castelfranco, F.C. Modena and Serie A superpower Juventus, who are the reigning champions.
United’s group schedule looks like this:
vs F.C. Chiasso (10/4/09, 19:15) at Bolelli, Campogalliano
vs U.S. Sassuolo (11/4/09, 10:45) at Ricci, Sassuolo
vs Aalborg BK (12/4/09, 10:45) at 1° Maggio, Spilamberto
If the Reds finish in the top two and progress to the semi-finals, they will play again at 17:30 on the 12th – either at the Ferrarini in Castelfranco if they win the group or back at the Ricci in Sassuolo if they finish second. Should we reach the final, that will be held at 17:30 on the 13th at the Dino Ferrari in Maranello.
MUTV are set to cover the tournament and there will hopefully be coverage on the official website as well. The tournament unfortunately clashes with a trip away for me (not to Italy sadly) but I’ll be endeavouring to cover things as best I can on here as usual. In addition, the RedCafe reserve/youth forum (link in the sidebar to your right) is always a good place to follow the fortunes of the Academy if news isn’t forthcoming from other sources, and if you speak Italian (and I don’t, but I’m going to assume ‘Risultati’ means Results), you can follow events at the official tournament website.