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U-19 soccer meet next week

Its time to try and bend it like Beckham.

Young footballers are honing their soccer skills for the upcoming Under-19 I League tournament for second division and academy teams.

The qualifying rounds will be played at Keenan Stadium in Jamshedpur and Noamundi Sports Complex in West Singhbhum from April 8 to 13. Matches will be played in round-robin format. The tourney will start with Bengaluru FC taking on Aizawl FC in Noamundi.

The final round, however, will be held in Jamshedpur from April 21 to 29.

Altogether six teams will qualify for the final round, of which four have already been selected on the basis of their performances in the preliminary rounds.

These are Sesa Football Academy, AIFF Navi Mumbai Academy, Shillong FC and Kingfisher East Bengal. For the remaining two spots, seven outfits Bengaluru FC, Aizawl FC, Hindustan FC, Garhwal FC, Tata Football Academy, MP United FC and Eagles FC are in the fray.

Six outfits will vie for the top honours in the final round, said Tata Steel vice-president and chairman of tournament organising panel Rajiv Singhal at a news meet in Jamshedpur on Thursday.

Singhal added that the four teams that have already qualified for the final round would arrive in the city on April 19.

Asked why Noamundi has been selected as one the venues, Singhal said the idea was to give an opportunity to the residents to watch a national-level tournament.

Match commissioner Binod Kumar Singh said the venue was fit for hosting a national-level tournament. I recently visited the venue and found it absolutely suitable. Some work is underway to deck things up, he added.

The sports complex at Noamundi boasts galleries and dressing rooms. The iron ore town will host six matches.

Besides Singhal and Das, Tata Steel chief of guest relations and sports Farzan Heerjee and senior manager of the sports department Charles Borromeo were also present.