Lion City Cup back next month with Spurs and Liverpool
Lion City Cup returns next month with two U-15 sides of English giants the big draw
Local football fans could be watching the next Harry Kane, or perhaps even Steven Gerrard, at the Lion City Cup next month.
The popular youth football tournament, which was not held last year because of funding issues, returns and will be held at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Aug 14 and 16.
Tournament organisers Red Card have managed to attract the Under-15 sides of Premier League giants Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool for this year's edition.
They will compete with local National Football Academy (NFA) U-15 and U-16 teams - Fandi Ahmad's second son Ikhsan will feature in the latter team - for the crown.
R Sasikumar, Red Card Global group chief executive officer, said: "The best academies have come (in the past) and I dare say we have one of the best youth tournaments around now.
"Our network has also grown over the years, it was easy for us to convince (clubs) in a sense as they all now want to be part of this tournament."
The Lion City Cup was the brainchild of former Football Association of Singapore (FAS) chairman N Ganesan, who died recently.
The first edition of the tournament was held in 1977 and starred Fandi, although its lustre faded in the decades that followed.
Red Card revived the competition in 2011 and, in the two years that followed, attracted the junior teams of global football institutions like Brazil's Flamengo, England's Arsenal, Italy's Juventus and Holland's Ajax Amsterdam.
Despite the tournament's popularity, it was not held last year because of monetary problems due in part to electronics manufacturing giants Canon choosing not to extend their three-year title sponsorship deal.
FORMAT TO REVERT
Sasi says Red Card and FAS are only looking forward.
Said the former Singapore defender: "The tournament is a close thing to (us)... We invested a lot of time, money and resources into it.
"But things happen for a reason. And that's the past.
"Moving forward... We are already looking at next year's edition, talking to teams, getting dates ready, speaking to different sponsors.
"I'm sure a lot of fans miss the tournament. It has a special place in a lot of people's hearts in Singapore and we are no different.
"As a business and as people involved in football, we always try to outdo ourselves every year. That's a promise to FAS and we'll keep doing that in the years to come."
Only two foreign teams were invited for this year's tournament, as opposed to four from 2011 to 2013, because of "congestion of both sporting and non-sporting events" in Singapore's golden jubilee year.
Sasi gave the assurance that the tournament will revert to a six-team format from next year and the Lion City Cup will be held at least until 2018.
FAS president Zainudin Nordin described the Lion City Cup as "a special tournament" for the organisation, and tipped the local boys to impress.
He said: "From the recent assessment we got from our technical director (Belgian Michel Sablon), he was pleasantly surprised at the quality of our U-15s and they might be able to spring some surprises.
"Of course, in any football tournament or match, anything can happen.
"I'm confident we will have good matches, and the boys will give of their best to give the teams a run for their money."
LION CITY CUP
NFA U-15 v Tottenham Hotspur U-15 (6pm)
NFA U-16 v Liverpool U-15 (8.45pm)
Third-place play-off (5pm)
Jalan Besar Stadium
Tickets priced from $5 to $25, go on sale from Tuesday. Fans can purchase tickets via Global Tickets on their website (www.globaltickets.sg) or by calling 35129333. Purchases can also be made through AXS Stations.
The 18-year-old striker (above) featured in the 2011 Lion City Cup, scoring once in a 3-2 defeat by an Adam Swandi-powered NFA Under-16 team.
Armstrong has made 19 appearances for Newcastle, with 15 of those in the Premier League, although he has yet to score his first senior goal.
The 19-year-old Brazilian forward was crowned the Most Valuable Player in the 2011 Lion City Cup after he helped Vasco da Gama win the title.
He crossed the Atlantic to sign for Italian top-tier side Cagliari in January 2014, and has gone on to make eight appearances for the club, six of them in the Serie A.
Wore the captain's armband for the Porto side who failed to make it out of the 2012 Lion City Cup group stages.
The failure aside, Neves (above) made a breakthrough into the Porto first team last season, making 37 appearances, 24 of them in their league campaign which saw them finish runners-up.
He has been compared to Monaco star Joao Moutinho and Barcelona's Sergio Busquets, and has reportedly attracted interest from European giants like Real Madrid, AC Milan, Juventus, Paris Saint Germain and Liverpool.
The 17-year-old winger blazed the flanks at Jalan Besar Stadium as part of the Arsenal side who reached the semi-finals of the 2013 Lion City Cup.
It is a measure of his progress that the young Englishman (above) has been named in the Gunners' Barclays Asia Trophy squad and could well strut his stuff alongside the likes of Mesut Oezil and Theo Walcott at the 55,000-seater National Stadium next week.
A classy playmaker whose goals and assists helped his side to the 2013 Lion City Cup title, the 17-year-old recently made the step up to the first team, rubbing shoulders with the likes of former Brazil international striker Vagner Love.
Matheus has reportedly been scouted by Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City, but is tipped to join Dutch side PSV Eindhoven - who also took part in the 2013 Lion City Cup - instead because of work permit issues.
Gatlin ready for Bolt
Justin Gatlin shot arch-rival Usain Bolt a warning with a consummate performance in his 26th successive sprint victory (yesterday morning, Singapore time), while Mo Farah returned to the track with a sublime win he said answered his critics.
Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m gold medallist and 2005 double world sprint champion, who consequently served two doping bans, is peaking perfectly for next month's world championships in Beijing.
At 33, there is no doubt the American is the sprinter to beat and at the Diamond League meet he saw off his two closest rivals this season in teammate Tyson Gay and Jamaican Asafa Powell. A smart start and impressive drive phase from 60 metres through to the line saw him clock 9.75 seconds, with Powell edging out Gay for second, both timing 9.92sec.
There was a dramatic season debut in the men's 5,000m for Olympic and double world champion Farah, his first outing since doping allegations against his coach Alberto Salazar. Farah held his nerve to kick back in a supreme show on the final lap from 80 metres out to beat Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha. - AFP.