The international football stars of the future will be blazing across Aspire Zone’s pitches tomorrow as junior players from some of the best teams in the world go head-to-head at the third annual Al Kass International Cup.
The tournament begins with last year’s runners up, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), taking on FC Barcelona at 16.15. The second match sees Qatar’s Aspire International play Real Madrid at 18.20, before last year’s champions, Fluminense of Brazil, come up against French newcomers Auxerre at 20.25.
“Since its inception in 2012, year-on-year the Al Kass International Cup has grown to be an elite showcase of the world’s best junior football talent, providing a glimpse of what to expect from some of the world’s most beloved football clubs in years to come,” said Essa Al Hetmi, Chairman of Al Kass Organising Committee. “The tournament also seeks to raise the level of competition within Qatar and provide an exciting experience for not only the visiting players but the spectators as well. With lots of prizes to be had, I urge Qatar’s public to come along to the games and support their favourite teams, so as not to miss out on all the live action.”
The Al Kass Organising Committee has set the prize money at US $75,000 for the tournament champions. The team finishing in 12th place will receive US $4,000, with a range of awards in between. An additional US $3,000 will be given to the tournament’s top players, scorers and goalkeepers, with US $1,000 awarded to each man of the match.
Spectators at the tournament will also have the chance to win big with Al Kass, with daily cash prizes of up to $5,000 on offer. In addition two daily winners will be selected for the best fan banner and outfit and walk away with US $800 in cash. In addition, department store 51 East will be giving away 10 PlayStation 4 consoles during a raffle at the tournament’s closing ceremony. Coca Cola will also be awarding a one-year supply of its soda to five winners, who will walk away with 30 boxes each. The prize draw will take place after the final match, with entrance tickets used as raffle tokens.
Both of Aspire Academy’s under-16 teams will once more face their international counterparts Real Madrid, PSG, FC Barcelona and Brazil’s Fluminense. This year is the first time a team from the USA will compete, with Chicago Fire participating. Newcomers Manchester City, FC Porto, AC Milan, Auxerre, and Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol complete the line-up. The teams will be divided into four groups of three, with the top two teams from each group qualifying for the quarter-finals to compete for the Al Kass trophy.
The tournament, which is free to access and run from January 13 to 23, was established by Al Kass in partnership with Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) and the Qatar Football Association (QFA) to represent the future of football. The intention is to showcase tomorrow’s football stars and contribute to the development of Qatar as proud footballing nation, with all of this year’s matches open to the public.
Previous tournaments have hosted emerging stars such as Adrien Rabiot-Provost, the talented French footballer who plays as a midfielder for PSG. The 2013 Al Kass International Cup also saw participation from then junior player Kingsley Coman, who went on to become the youngest player in PSG’s history that same year.
Both teams representing Qatar in the tournament are from the AZF’s Aspire Academy, which is not only the country’s leading sports academy but also at the heart of the sporting revolution underway in the Gulf region.
Last years’ Al Kass International Cup final saw Brazil’s Fluminense take the trophy from 2012 champions PSG after having beaten them on penalties in a dramatic match. It remains to be seen if the teams will meet again at this year’s finals.