Can anyone halt the charge of Ghana’s sensational Right to Dream academy in the Premier Dale Farm Milk Cup chase this week?
Spanish hopefuls Real Sociedad and Malaga, CSKA Moscow and Newcastle United will fancy their chances but it looks to be the Africans who are in the box seat after continuing their winning streak at the Nike Cup in Manchester last week.
Milk Cup organiser Jim Sandford watched the Academy side in action and was impressed.
“Their style of play is outstanding and great to watch,” he reports.
“I think we are all going to be surprised at their ability. They will bring something new and exciting to the competition.”
Right to Dream, winners of the world famous Gothia Cup in Sweden the previous week, have seen off some of the strongest clubs in Europe in recent times.
Meanwhile, the French regional side Vendee are back in a bid to make up for the disappointment of losing out to Manchester United in last year’s final when defender Cameron Borthwick-Jackson’s goal settle the contest.
“Vendee were terrific and beat CKSA to reach the final,” says Jim Weir. “I think they could be dark horses.”
Much has been written about the non-appearance of United, 12-time finalists in the Premier section, but the organisers believe the competition will continue to flourish despite their decision to end a 25-year relationship.
Jim Sandford used his visit to Manchester last week to holds talks with the club.
“I don’t want to go into detail but I have spoken to Old Trafford officials again and our relationship with them club continues to be a good one, despite what has been said in some quarters about their decision not to join us in 2015,” he says.
Although he would not be drawn on what might happen next year, there are positive signs that we may not have seen the last of the Red Devils at the competition.
The arrival of La Liga clubs Malaga and Sociedad is a major coup for the milk men who have continued to cast their net far and wide to attract a diversity of entrants.
“There are teams from Japan, Mexico, Colombia, New Zealand, Chile, Russia, America, Spain, France, Ghana and Zambia providing a rich diversity,” adds Jim.
Newcastle United are the sole English side in the mix. The Magpies, who included winger Rolando Aarons and defender Jamie Sterry in their squad, reached the final in 2012 but went down to a memorable Desportivo side from Brazil.
First ever winners, Motherwell, represent Scotland.