Young soccer talents take the field for Shanghai Future Star Cup
The 2023 Shanghai Future Star Cup kicked off at the SAIC Motor Pudong Arena on Monday. Over the next one week, seven international youth teams plus one from Shanghai will exchange skills and showcase a high level of competition in global youth soccer.
As Shanghai's self-developed sports event, the tournament gathers youth teams sent by English Premier League clubs Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, Portugal's FC Porto, Japan's Cerezo Osaka, South Korea's Ulsan Hyundai, Qatar's Aspire Academy, and Vietnam's PVF Football Academy, as well as a local Shanghai team.
Manchester City's U16 team is a strong favorite in Group A. Defender Dante Headley has been labeled by the Daily Mail as one of the most talented player sof his age in England, while center back Leke Drake had already reached a market value of 450,000 pounds (US$566,282) at just 13 years old. Adding intrigue to the roster are Regan Heskey, son of English football legend Emile Heskey, and Ryan Liu, a player of Chinese origin.
Ulsan Hyundai is also in the group, as well as PVF Football Academy and Aspire Academy, the premier youth training institutions in Asia.
Le Minh Nhat is touted as one of Vietnam's most leadership-oriented players. In the midfield, Nguyen Le Phat serves as the engine of the team, while Fhung Quang Tu stands out as one of the most potent attacking players in his age group.
Host Shanghai Team will face formidable European opponents Tottenham Hotspur and Porto in Group B. Also in the group is Asian contender Cerezo Osaka.
Led by head coach and former Shanghai Shenhua player Tao Jin, Shanghai Team comprises players from the champion team of last year's Shanghai Future Star Cup.
Key players to watch include last year's standout Wang Ziheng, center-forward Xu Huashu, and goalkeeper Meng Fanhang.
Tottenham's youngsters have set their sights on winning the Shanghai tournament. The team recently clinched England's U17 league title. Defenders Adekunle Adeleke and Theodore Adelusi have been promoted to compete in older age-group squads, having previously represented Nigeria at the U20 World Cup.
Porto's youth team is also the reigning champion in its respective age group in the Portuguese league, boasting an astonishing record of 27 wins and 1 draw in 28 matches.
After a three-day round-robin phase, teams will enter the knockout and ranking stages. The semifinals will be played on Friday, with the final on Sunday.