The next generation of global football stars have arrived in Qatar for the sixth annual Al Kass International Cup, set to kick off tomorrow, Saturday 21 January at Aspire Academy. The tournament brings together 12 top Under-17 (U17) teams from around the world in a ten-day competition.

The 12 teams participating in this year’s tournament represent some of the most storied clubs in international football, including Real Madrid (Spain), Bayern München (Germany), and Paris Saint-Germain (France), giving Doha crowds the opportunity to see the potential superstars of the future.

Qatar’s Aspire Academy will add local flavour to the tournament, which was won last year by Aspire Football Dreams. Other participating teams include PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands), Kashiwa Reysol (Japan), FC Red Bull Salzburg (Austria), AS Roma (Italy), Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany), Al-Ahli Saudi FC (Saudi Arabia), Raja Casablanca (Morocco), and Espérance de Tunis (Tunisia).

Mohammad Khalifa Al Suwaidi, Acting CEO of Aspire Zone, said the tournament’s global prestige reflects Qatar’s continued emergence as an international sports leader.

Al Suwaidi said:

It is a great honour and privilege to be welcoming some of the world’s very best young football prospects to Doha for the sixth edition of the Al Kass International Cup. This tournament has become one of the most important international football tournaments for this age category, with some of the most well-known clubs in the world sending their future stars to Qatar to compete.’

He added:

The Al Kass International Cup has contributed greatly to the development of the skills of the players at Aspire Academy, and we are proud to co-organize and sponsor this championship held on our fields as a contribution to the advancement of football in support of the vision of our nation’s leadership to establish Qatar as an international sporting destination.’

Tomorrow, the first day of the competition, PSV Eindhoven will face Raja Casablanca, while FC Bayern München takes on Red Bull Salzburg and Espérance de Tunis faces off against Eintracht Frankfurt. The first round will pit groups of three teams against each other in a round-robin competition, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the knockout round. The final will be held on 31 January.

Official tournament sponsor Al Kass TV will be broadcasting all games live both online and on TV with Arabic and English commentary on Al Kass.

Essa Abdulla Al Hitmi, Chairman of the Organising Committee of Al Kass International Cup, said:

The Al Kass International Cup has cemented its place as one of the premier youth football tournaments globally. This year we will continue to build on this reputation with world-class broadcasting of the outstanding displays of football that we have come to expect from the Al Kass International Cup. Al Kass look forward to showcasing all the live action in 2016 to football fans all over the world.’

Sheikh Hamad Al Thani, President, Qatar Football Association, said:

Over the past five years, the Al Kass International Cup has become one of the premier championships for international clubs seeking to prepare their junior players. The players on the field at Aspire this year may very well be starring for the world’s biggest clubs in the future.’

Al Kass International Cup: The Vision

Currently celebrating its sixth year Al Kass International Cup is organised by Al Kass Sports Channels, in collaboration with Aspire Zone Foundation and the Qatar Football Association. The Under-17 football tournament is a global championship for worldwide competitive clubs.

The Al Kass International Cup has established itself as a key international football event that supports the Qatar National Vision 2030 and contributes to building on the foundations of a proud footballing nation up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup and beyond.

Inaugurated in 2012, Al Kass International Cup is an annual tournament that provides some of the world’s choice young footballers the opportunity to demonstrate their ability and skills on the world stage. The tournament also aims to contribute to the nurturing of passion for football in Qatar and the region by offering up an 11-day action-packed competition that seeks to propel Qatar to the forefront of sporting excellence and leadership.

Al Kass International Cup: The Winners So Far…

2012: Paris Saint-Germain
2013: Fluminense
2014: Aspire Football Dreams
2015: Paris Saint-Germain
2016: Aspire Football Dreams

Al Kass International Cup: Returning Teams

The Al Kass International Cup 2017 will see the return of five clubs: two-time winners Paris Saint-Germain, local favourite Aspire Academy, Real Madrid, Al-Ahli Saudi FC and FC Red Bull Salzburg.