Teams from no fewer than 20 countries will compete at this summer’s Dale Farm Milk Cup.
Club America from Mexico are returning to contest the Premier event along with regulars Otago from New Zealand.
Peru’s Club Cantolao and Chile’s O’Higgins FC have signed up in the chase for Junior glory.
“We truly have an outstanding international flavour spreading from North and Central America into South America, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Russia and Europe,” says tournament chairman Victor Leonard.
“I reckon this is one of the strongest line ups we have attracted in some time and the calibre of representatives is exceptionally high.”
Club America were attractive competitors last year and played their part in one of the tournament’s most exciting games, losing by the odd goal in five in a thrilling clash with SC Corinthians of Brazil who have switched to compete in the Junior competition this summer.
The Mexican club is one of the biggest back home, boasting the Aztec stadium as their home and the strength of their academy is internationally renown. Mexican teams have achieved four successes at the event over the years – three in the Elite section, including back-to-back victories last year and 2012, while the only club side to lift a title were Guadalajara, Junior champions in 2007.
Last year the Otago squad played warm up matches in Los Angeles en route to Northern Ireland and this year games in Manchester are being organised by former Otago United coach, ex-Republic of Ireland, Manchester City, Chelsea and Everton defender Terry Phelan.
Meanwhile, New Zealand businessman Clarke Walker, son of former Irish FA president Sammy Walker, who introduced Otago to the tournament more than a decade ago, is no longer involved with the club, having moved to Fiji to live.
O’Higgins, the Chilean side with a distinctly Irish-sounding name, were once managed by the man who masterminded Manchester City’s Premier League title triumph this season, Santiago-born Manuel Pellegrini.
The club take their name from founder Bernardo O’Higgins who helped free the country from Spanish rule in the Chilean War of Independence. Bernardo’s father, Ambrosio, was born in County Sligo.
The Dale Farm Milk Cup begins with the traditional parade of competing teams through Coleraine on Sunday, July 27, concluding with finals night at Ballymena Showgrounds on Friday, August 1.
The Draw for the competition will take place from 10.45am at W5 in the Odyssey complex, Belfast, on Tuesday, May 27.
In addition to title sponsors Dale Farm, Northern Ireland’s largest dairy company, the Dale Farm Milk Cup is supported by the five Councils of Coleraine, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Limavady and Derry City Council with BBC Sport NI as broadcast partners.
Note for editors:
Dale Farm is part of the United Dairy Farmers Group, a UK dairy farmer co-operative owned by over 1,600 dairy farmers who supply it with fresh milk. Dale Farm has operations throughout the UK and Ireland producing and distributing a wide range of dairy products which it sells across the UK and Ireland as well as exporting to over 45 countries worldwide.