East Bengal wins Indian leg of MU Premier Cup

The Indian leg of the Manchester United Premier Cup for U-15 footballers, was won by East Bengal FC. The team will be flown by Nike to represent India in the South East Asia finals from 28 to 31 May. The SEA regional winners will join 19 teams from around the world to play for the World Finals. At the opening ceremony on 9 January, All India Football Federation secretary Alberto Colaco told Sanjay Gangopadhyay, the Marketing Director of Nike India, that football was extremely happy with its partnership with Nike. "By organising grass root level initiatives, such as the Manchester United Premier Cup, they have certainly helped in promoting the game in India," he said.

The playoffs were held at the Goan Sports ground from 10-11 January with teams divided into foiur groups. Group A: Mohun Bagan, Vasco, Goa, J & K Football Academy and Sikkim Football Academy; Group B: Mahindra United, SBH Singh Football Academy, Goa United Sports Academy and Mohammedan Sporting. Group C: East Bengal, Pondicherry Football Academy, Providence Football Club and Velsao Pale SC; and Group D: JCT Football Academy, MDFA Academy, Simla Youngs and Eastern Sporting Union. The semifinalist were Mohun Bagan vs East Bengal (0-2) & Mahindra United vs JCT Football Academy (4-1 tie breaker). Mahindra United lost the finals was won to East Bengal in the 31st minute by a solitary goal from a brilliant free kick taken by Biswajit Natta.

“The Nike-Manchester United Premier Cup is undoubtedly the best national tournament professionally organized for children. The tournament gives an opportunity to academies to show their talented players at the tournament for the Federation to take notice. This also gives the children the much needed match experience at an early age. We only wish that many more academy teams can participate, hopefully that should happen next year,” Premier India Football Academy Director, Nirvan Shah, said.