BAHRAIN’S under-20 national football team will be taking part in 2019 Toulon Tournament, also known as the Festival International “Espoirs” – Tournoi Maurice Revello, to be held from June 1 to 15 across six host cities in the southern French region of Provence.
The Bahrainis are joining the event as part of their preparations for the 2020 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship, which is scheduled to take place in January.
The event also acts as the Asian qualifiers for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Bahrain are one of 12 teams in the fray. The others are China, Japan and Qatar from Asia; France, Portugal, Ireland and defending champions England from Europe; and Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Guatemala from South America.
For the first round, the teams will be divided into three four-team groups. The three top teams of each group as well as the best second placed team will advance to the semi-finals. Meanwhile, the other teams will play another game to determine their final ranking in the competition.
Bahrain are in Group ‘C’ along with China, Mexico and Ireland. They play their first game on June 3 against the Mexicans, face China on June 6 and Ireland on June 9.
Group ‘A’ includes Chile, England, Japan and Portugal while Group ‘B’ features Brazil, France, Guatemala and Qatar.
The Toulon Tournament plays with two 40-minute halves. It is not run under the supervision of Fifa or an individual national association, therefore, it is deemed as the most prestigious of all friendly tournaments involving under-21 teams, and considered an unofficial world championship before Fifa introduced the official World Youth Cup in 1977.
Many top international stars from the past and present had played in the Toulon tournament during their younger years. Among them are David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Andy Cole, Paul Gascoigne and Alan Shearer from England; Mark van Bommel and Roy Makaay from the Netherlands; Cafu and Juninho from Brazil; James Rodriguez from Colombia; and Thierry Henry, Didier Deschamps and Zinedine Zidane from France, to name only a few.