Top Flight Magpies on return trip to SuperCupNI

May 23, 2017 | Premier Section

Newcastle United are heading back to the Premier League and boss Rafa Benitez has signed off on a Magpies return to the SuperCupNI.


The Geordies will rub shoulders with some of the finest international talent at the youth tournament with Chilean stars O’Higgins out to defend the Premier title they landed last year.


Newcastle United have been longstanding supporters of the event and were winners back in 1985 and again in 1989.


“It is fantastic to see the club continue to join us,” says tournament chairman Victor Leonard.


“We have established a strong relationship with St. James Park down the years.”


He added: “We have a strong entry from across the globe this year.


“Our event has always prided itself on quality not quantity and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”


Former Premier winners Right to Dream from Ghana and French club Vendee are also in the line up alongside newcomers in Beijing’s Morning Star United, Japan’s Komasawa and Osasco from Chile.


Inaugural Junior section winners Rangers return in that category with Southampton, Middlesbrough and 2006 champions Swindon Town.


But Victor is also pleased with positive feedback from the Northern Ireland County teams who have grown in stature at the event in recent years.


“We are hearing good things about the standard of several squads and the progression we have witnessed has been rewarding for everyone associated with them,” says Victor.


“Some people suggested that we gambled several years ago when we formed County associations which could draw on players from wider areas.


“But we were certain the move would be good for the local challenge, strengthening it by raising the bar in terms of quality.


“In recent year’s we have seen County teams grace finals and Antrim followed up their Junior title success against Brazil’s highly rated Corinthians in 2014 with a Premier victory over Mexico’s Club America two years ago.”


County Tyrone narrowly lost the 2014 Junior final to Manchester United and Co. Londonderry were beaten by Right to Dream last year’s Junior showpiece decider.


This year the important role the SuperCupNI has played in assisting the development of future players in top flight football has been recognised by the Premier League in England which has come in with financial assistance.


The event begins in Coleraine on Sunday, July 23, with its traditional welcome ceremony at the Showgrounds after competing teams have paraded through the town centre.


Finals night is Friday, July 28, at Ballymena Showgrounds.