La Liga club Girona to play matches in Kochi

La Liga club Girona to play matches in Kochi

BOG BOOST Spanish top flight team Girona FC will play two matches at Kochi in July as part of their pre-season programme. AFP

La Liga side Girona FC will play two matches in Kochi in July, a development that could provide an impetus to India's quest to become one of the pre-season football destinations for clubs from across the world.

Girona FC, who stunned Real Madrid last season, will become only the second side from a top European league to visit India.

Toyota Yaris La Liga World will be held in Kochi with Indian Super League club Kerala Blasters FC, A-League's Melbourne City FC and Girona FC locking horns in a three-way tournament.

The three sides will play their matches at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium from July 24.

One of ISL's biggest clubs, Kerala Blasters FC, will look to kick-start their pre-season playing these top foreign clubs at home.

Australian club Melbourne City FC, managed by Warren Joyce, will come in after a third-place finish in the hotly contested A-League, the best finish in their history.

Girona FC, who finished 10th in La Liga, will look to add Spanish flavour on their maiden trip to India. After joining the top-flight last season, Girona FC made a strong statement by beating defending champions Real Madrid.

La Liga ambassador and former Spain international Fernando Morientes, who unveiled the tournament trophy, said, "It gives me immense pleasure to be a part of such a historic moment. Pre-season tournaments are the best preparatory ground for a club to prepare for the season ahead.

"I remember how playing pre-season friendlies helped me identify the areas that I needed to work upon and be better prepared."

Delfi Geli, Girona FC's president, said "For Girona FC it will be a special experience as it will be the first time our team has played away from Europe since its foundation 88 years ago.

"We are looking forward to starting the tournament and showing the football that we've displayed in La Liga to the Indian football fans and the world."

Scott Munn, Melbourne City FC CEO, said, "This is Melbourne City's first ever visit to India, and the whole squad are incredibly excited about meeting the fans in Kochi and playing in front of such a passionate crowd.

"High-quality opposition is an important part of our pre-season preparation, and we are delighted to be taking on both Kerala Blasters and our sister-club Girona FC in this brand new tournament."