Attention turns to the Blue Stars
Posted by nickogs20 on May 19, 2009
With the domestic season all wrapped up at both Reserve and Academy level, United’s youngsters have one last chance to shine in 2008/09 before heading off on their summer holidays – the 2009 Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup in Zurich, Switzerland, which starts tomorrow (Wednesday).
The Blue Stars is one of the most illustrious youth tournaments in world football, with a long history dating back to 1939, when Swiss side FC Blue Stars expanded their youth programme to incorporate an annual tournament. In the seventy years since, pretty much every top club you could care to mention has participated, with United regularly making the trip to an event often cited by former players as a terrific experience. Indeed, the Reds hold the record for the most number of tournament wins, with back to back titles in 2004 and 2005 taking their tally to 18. Last year saw them finish a very creditable third, thanks to a late Joshua King goal against Hamburg.
Held over two days (tomorrow and Thursday) at the Buchlern Sports Complex in Zurich, the tournament is for players born on or after the 1st January 1989 (essentially Under-20s), and features ten teams – more on this year’s participants below. Those ten teams are split into two groups of five, and all teams play the other teams in their group once on a round-robin basis. All teams play three group games on the first day and their remaining fixture the following morning, so obviously full-length matches aren’t on the agenda. Instead, each group match lasts 40 minutes (20 minutes each way). When all group games have been completed, teams face the side that has finished in the corresponding position in the other group – the two top sides compete for the trophy, with playoffs for 3rd/4th, 5th/6th, 7th/8th and 9th/10th also being played. These final games last an extra ten minutes (25 minutes each way).
The tournament lineup this year is as follows:
Real Madrid (Spain), Beijing Guoan (China), Hertha Berlin (Germany), FC Zurich (Switzerland), Grasshoppers Zurich (Switzerland).
Manchester United (England), Flamengo (Brazil), Fenerbahce (Turkey), FC Basel (Switzerland), FC Blue Stars (Switzerland).
And United’s match schedule (times in CET):
Wednesday 14.50 – vs FC Blue Stars (Pitch 2)
Wednesday 16.30 – vs Fenerbahce (Pitch 3)
Wednesday 19.00 – vs FC Basel (Pitch 2)
Thursday 11.40 – vs Flamengo (Pitch 1)
The final matches are then played on Thursday afternoon, starting at 1pm and culminating with the final at 4.45pm.
Teams are permitted to name a squad of 18, who wear their designated shirt numbers throughout the tournament, and the squad chosen by Paul McGuinness and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is listed below:
1. Ben Amos
2. Richard Eckersley
3. Joe Dudgeon
4. Corry Evans
5. Reece Brown
6. Matt James
7. Cameron Stewart
8. Daniel Drinkwater
9. Febian Brandy
10. Rodrigo Possebon
11. Robbie Brady
12. Scott Moffatt
13. Conor Devlin
14. Oliver Norwood
15. Joshua King
16. Nicky Ajose
17. Ravel Morrison
18. Scott Wootton
Things get underway tomorrow afternoon in Zurich, and we’ll be keenly following the side’s progress over the next two days, with reports at the end of both days and quick-hit updates throughout the tournament on Twitter. For further tournament info, you can visit the official Blue Stars FIFA Youth Cup 2009 website.