Five champion teams will join the 2017 Luneng Weifang Cup International Youth Football Tournament, which will be held from July 23 to 29 in Weifang, Shandong Province, the organizer announced here Saturday.
According to Li Xueli, vice president of Shandong Luneng Taishan Football School that co-organizes the tournament, eight teams are invited this year, including six foreign clubs and two Chinese teams. The teams, all fielding young players under 19, will be divided into two groups and play altogether 20 games.
This year's tournament will for the first time witness a collection of five champion teams of the Cup, including the 2006 champion Shandong Luneng FC from China, the 2010 champion China's National Youth Team, the 2011 champion Mexico's Guadalajara, the 2015 champion Wolfsburg of the German Bundesliga, and the Cup's 2016 winner Brazil's Desportivo Brasil.
Belgium, a rising star in world football, will also participate in the games.
Despite an unaccustomed heat of summer, all teams are set to do their best.
"We took a long flight from Mexico, and our players were tired upon arrival, but they will pick up soon and try their best in the games," said Ramon Baeza Lopz, coach of Mexico's Guadalajara.
According to Thomas Reis, coach of Wolfsburg of the German Bundesliga, a team that has played three times in the Cup, this year' s games are great opportunities to learn from others.
"It's a great pleasure to be here for the fourth time, and we are lucky to have such high-level competitors each year," he said.
As for last year's champion, Brazil's Desportivo Brasil refuses to let down guard this time.
"The teams are all quite competitive, and it's not easy to defend the title," said coach Edson Carvalho Hudson.
Besides a five-day competition, this year's tournament will also see other events such as the Legal Protection International Conference, to promote the discussion of how to protect the right of young athletes.
The opening game of this year's Weifang Cup will feature the Chinese National Youth Team and Wolfsburg.