Ghanaian regulars Right to Dream claimed their first ever Premier crown last summer after a hard fought win against Club America on finals night.
The African side were made to work hard in the latter stages of the competition as they squeezed past Newcastle United in the final four and Club America in the final.
And this summer they will hope to become only the second team in the history of the competition to retain the Premier title. Only Manchester United have successfully defended their title but the Ghanaian outfit enjoyed success at Junior level two years ago and will be quietly confident about returning home with silverware.
However, awaiting them in Group B are last year’s runners-up Club America, Scottish side Partick Thistle and County Tyrone.
Partick make their return after a 3-year absence when they impressed in the Premier section.
There will be plenty of local interest in Group E with host side County Antrim facing fellow NI side County Fermanagh and Russian side Spartak Moscow have returned to the competition after a short absence.
That group is completed by Osasco from Brazil, who pushed Right to Dream all the way last year in an entertaining clash in Portstewart on day three.
County Londonderry will have to take on some of America and Canada’s top prospects if they are to advance. They will face Global Premier Soccer, newcomers Edmonton FC and French side Vendee in Group A.
Group C will see long time attendees Newcastle United face Japanese, Chilean and Northern Irish opposition. Iquique from Chile will make their debut at the competition and Ichifuna from Japan greatly impressed the crowds in 2016 and should prove tricky opposition for Newcastle, Iquique and local side County Down.
There will be plenty of intrigue about what some of Serie B’s top talent will bring to the competition. The Italian select side follow in the footsteps of Napoli and Rimini, who attended the tournament in the past. They are joined in Group D by First Choice Soccer from the United States, Otago from New Zealand and local side County Armagh.
PREMIER DRAW –
Group A – Vendee, Global Premier Soccer, Edmonton FC and County Londonderry
Group B – Partick Thistle, Club America, Right to Dream and County Tyrone
Group C – Newcastle United, Iquique (Chile), Ichifuna and County Down
Group D – Serie B, First Choice Soccer, Otago and County Armagh
Group E – Spartak Moscow, Osasco, County Antrim and County Fermanagh