The 11-day tournament will see youth teams from a host of top clubs across Europe, Asia and South America competing against each other in Malaysia and Indonesia, with matches being played in large stadiums and in front of live TV cameras.
We’ve been drawn in Group D where we’ll face Frenz United Malaysia (Sunday, January 4), Indian side AIFF (Tuesday, January 6) and Estudiantes from Argentina (Thursday, January 8).
Other teams involved across the four groups include Liverpool, Feyenoord, Internacional, Valencia, Besiktas and Porto.
The top two sides from each group will qualify for the quarter-finals, which begin on Saturday, January 10.
“It’s a privilege that we get invited to these tournaments,” said Academy Manager John McDermott, who witnessed our youngsters’ IMG Cup triumph in Florida in December.
“This has come about through Steve McMahon, the ex-Liverpool, Everton and England player, who has obviously realised that we’ve got a good group of players and consequently we’ve been invited to participate.
“The calibre of the opposition that we’re facing is very good and, as we’ve said before, these tournaments allow our players to compete against different types of teams.
“The beauty of the competition is that there’s a lot riding on games very quickly because you’ve got to qualify from the group and then straight away you’re into the knockout stages.
“The games are televised as well. Last year at a similar tournament in Vietnam, we were playing in front of 22,000 people in packed stadia, so it’s an incredible mental test for the players.
“It’s hard work as well because of the humidity – the local teams are far more used to it, so our players have got to adapt and think on their feet.
“That’s all part of why we go – you can learn a lot about players in the space of this one week alone.
“One of the disadvantages is that you often end up with a backlog in domestic competitions, but that’s something we’ve accepted for a number of years now because we believe the positives associated with these tournaments far outweigh any negatives.”
Squad: Glover (GK), Voss (GK), Amos, Azzaoui, Daly, Georgiou, Goddard, Harrison, Hayford, Loft, Maghoma, Muscatt, Onomah, Owens, Paul, Sterling, Stylianides, Tanganga, Walker-Peters, Walkes.