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Rediff.com  » Sports » MUPC India winner to get direct berth in world finals

MUPC India winner to get direct berth in world finals

November 11, 2008 20:12 IST

This edition's India leg winner of the Nike Manchester United Premier Cup, a tournament for under-15 boys, will get direct entry to the world finals, to be held in Manchester.

MUPC, in its fourth year in India, started off with eight teams and has today graduated to 50. These teams will go through zonal qualifiers in Delhi (November 11 to 13), Sikkim (November 18 to 20) and Goa (November 26 to 28), which will host both West and South zone matches.

Sanjoy Gangopadhyay, marketing director of Nike, is flanked by Chhetri (left) and BhutiaThe winners and runners-up from each zone will take part in the India finals, to be held in Goa from December 1 to 3.

Present on the occasion was Indian football's pin-up boy and skipper Baichung Bhutia and strike partner Sunil Chhetri.

Both urged youngsters to play with confidence and enjoy the game.

"With the winner getting direct entry to the world finals, this will offer great exposure to the kids," Bhutia said.

In the first edition of the tournament, Mohun Bagan made it to the world finals after emerging champions in the Asian zone, with East Bengal following suit the next year. They, though, finished runners-up in Asia.

St Stephen's Football Academy, however, failed to reach Manchester last year, getting knocked out in the continental round itself.

But this time they don't have to go through the Asian round and have been accorded direct entry to the world finals.

East Bengal, though, won't figure in this edition of the tournament having been banned for two years for fielding overage players in the last edition.

This year too stringent measures will be taken to stop age fudging, assured Sanjoy Gangopadhyay, marketing director of Nike.