Nagjee Trophy: Watford and Paranaense to kick-off proceedings

The ISL may have finally brought high class football to India, but the Sait Nagjee tournament, in which eight top teams compete at one venue for a little over two weeks, has its own charm.

The Argentina U-23 team will be part of the Sait Nagjee football tournament.

Since the last Sait Nagjee football tournament was played, France, Brazil, Italy, Spain and Germany have won the World Cup. The incurable football maniacs of Kozhikode, and Malabar, have sacrificed their sleep to watch every minute of those World Cups.

Now, they get an opportunity to watch some promising young players, who could one day play in the World Cup. The Sait Nagjee international club football tournament, which kicks off at the Corporation Stadium here on Friday, indeed promises some quality fare over the next fortnight.

It is mostly the youth teams, mainly of clubs from Europe and Latin America that have come here, but one could expect several exciting talents displaying their skills in what could well be one of the finest international football tournaments held in the country in recent times.

Yes, the ISL has finally brought high class football to India, but a tournament in which eight top teams compete at one venue for a little over two weeks has its own charm.

A bit of the renowned charm of Latin American football is expected from Atletico Paranaense of Brazil and the Argentina Under-23 side. “Yes, we know Brazil and Argentina have a lot of fans here,” said the Paranaense coach Marcelo Vilhena. “So we are very happy to play in this tournament.”

We could find out how good his team is on the opening day itself, as it takes on the Under-21 team of Watford FC, the English Premier League side. His counterpart is Harry Kewell, the Australian World Cup hero of 2006.

“The tournament is a great opportunity for us,” he said. “We decided to take part in it because it would test our players against some of the best young players around.”

Besides Watford and Paranaense, Group ‘A’ features FC Rapid Bucharest (Romania) and FC Volyn Lutsk (Ukraine).

Group ‘B’ is made up of TSV 1880 Munich (Germany), Shamrock Rovers (Ireland), Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (Ukraine) and Argentina Under-23.

The top two teams from each group will advance to the semi-finals, to be played on February 18 and 19. The final is scheduled for February 21.

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