Aspiring Reds off to Weifang Cup

A crop of young South Australian football talent will represent Adelaide United FC at the highly reputable youth tournament, the Weifang Cup.

A crop of young South Australian football talent will represent Adelaide United FC at the highly reputable youth tournament, the Weifang Cup.

Taking place from July 31 through to August 7 in China-s Weifang Shandong province, the Weifang Cup 2011 International Youth Football Tournament is for players 18 years and younger, and will feature eight youth teams from around the world. This includes, for the first time, a squad from Adelaide United.

The seven other teams joining the Reds in the tournament are Spanish club Villareal, the Chinese National Youth Team, the Indian National Youth Team, Portugal-s Benfica, Chivas Guadalajara from Mexico, China-s Shandong and High School United from Korea Republic.

Under the guidance and direction of Adelaide United Youth Coach Michael Valkanis and South Australian Sports Institute (SASI) Football Coach and former Qantas Socceroo Tony Vidmar, the Reds- squad comprises of players from local SA clubs, SASI and South Australian players based at the AIS. Of the 21 names in the squad, they include Qantas Joeys goalkeeper Paul Izzo and midfielder Jacob Melling, who will join the Reds- senior list from 1 January 2012, as well as fellow Australian U-17 representatives who played in the recent FIFA U-17 World Cup, Jake Monaco and Stefan Mauk.

Valkanis sees this chance for South Australia-s talented aspiring young players to compete in the Weifang Cup as a major benefit and foot-up for the development of football in SA.

“I think it-s a great opportunity for the South Australian boys travelling to play in this prestigious Asian youth tournament and also a great opportunity for Adelaide United to be part of this tournament against the likes of Benfica, Villareal and Shandong,” Valkanis said.

“It is going to be a great experience from the players- perspective to gauge where they-re at in relation to youth players from overseas clubs that have long history and great youth setups.”

Valkanis will also use the tournament to look at prospective players for the Reds- Youth team for the upcoming National Youth League season.

“I spoke to coaches at local clubs and asked them to put forward some names that they thought we should have a good look at, and at the same time I thought it would be a great opportunity to use it not only for this tournament but also looking ahead to the NYL and identifying the right players that will fit into our program and hopefully make that next step up to the senior team,” Valkanis said.

“Some of them are possibly a chance for the National Youth League and future Adelaide United players, so it-s a great opportunity for the club to have a look at these boys.”

“Unfortunately we don-t get to see these boys day in day out, they-re in a different environment whether it-s at their local clubs or in the AIS or at SASI, so bringing them together has been difficult with the time constraints but it is certainly a challenge we are all looking forward to and I think with a bit of the fighting Australian spirit, we can do quite well there.”

The tournament will see the eight teams split into two groups of four, with the teams playing a round robin format against other clubs in their group. At the end of the round robin stage, the first placed team from one group will place the second placed team from the other group and vice-versa, with the winners of these two matches to play off in the final.

Click here for more information on the Weifang Cup.

Adelaide United Youth squad for Weifang Cup George ASLANDIDIS, Thomas DICKSON, Jordan ELSEY, Benjamin GARUCCIO, Jake HALLIDAY, Shaun HARVEY, George HATZIPANAGIOTIS, Paul IZZO, Jordan KALLIOS, Dion KIRK, David MAKRIDIS, Michael MARKHAM, Stefan MAUK, Nicholas MAVROMATIS, Jacob MELLING, Jake MONACO, Paul RADICE, Adam SAPIO, John SOLARI, Allan WELSH, Jacob WILLIAMS

Coach - Michael Valkanis Assistant Coach - Tony Vidmar