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Article - "They're set for Master Challenge


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They're set for Master challenge

By TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

Take Phil Neal's word for it -- he wants to beat the pants off Manchester United next month at the Air Canada Centre.

Neal and other former Liverpool players will be at the ACC on Jan. 22 for a Masters Football League round-robin tournament involving a team of ex-Manchester United stars and two other teams.

"As old as you are, you have a certain pride," Neal, 53, said. "We are so proud of our shirt. We would hate to leave this city having been beaten for the trophy."

Started in 1998, the Masters Football League features more than 350 former English Premier League players now over the age of 35. The games are played indoors in hockey arenas throughout England.

In Toronto, each of the four teams will play each other once in 16-minute matches, leading to a final between the top two clubs. There are 10 players on each club, with a maximum of six on the pitch at one time. Another round-robin tentatively is scheduled for Jan. 23 in Calgary.

For the tournament in Toronto, Canadian goalkeeper Craig Forrest has been given the responsibility of forming a team of 10 former Canadian pros, including himself. The fourth club will consist of local players.

"It will be quite a diverse team because it will be drafted from the ethnic community and from all the clubs in town," said Howard Silver, one of the event's organizers. "I am sure there will be no shortage of people looking to play against Manchester United and Liverpool."

Silver expects tickets to start in the range of $20 each, with a top price of $75 that would include admission to a pre-event reception with the players. Tickets are set to go on sale next week through TicketMaster.

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