This is the first time there has ever been an U-16 Moyenne Boys Tournament in Verona. This was excellent news for those fortunate enough to have previously taken part in this tournament in the younger category of U-14s. Indeed, Junior Boys La Chataigneraie team were Champions in 2014 and so this offered an opportunity to compete yet again amongst a strong field. In fact, as the brochure write up suggested, there was an air of optimism that we would be successful again. However, with only one continuous player in this team, the challenge was more about how to bond and play as a team so that we could remain in the Elite Category of this Cup, rather than compete in the lower half Champions part of the table.
Morale was strong between the Yr 10-11 players. By train the journey is long, however it allows for camoradery to build, tactics to be discussed and formations to be decided. After a good nights sleep and a few practical jokes amongst room mates, we were ready for the first day of action.
We were in a league of 8 teams coming from all over the globe, Tokyo, Cairo, Dubai, Milan, Slovakia, Rome and Switzerland with only the top four teams able to qualify for the Elite category of the cup. This was our goal.
End of day 1 saw us in a good position. We had conceded only 5 goals, won 2 matches, drawn 1 and lost 1. We were ranked in 3rd place and looking strong for the next day matches.
Day 2 saw a more mixed set of results. After 1 loss and 1 draw, we were in 4th position leaving a win the only outcome against first place Cairo to guarantee qualification for the Elite cup. After an excellent team display and everyone battling hard, we won 1-0, we had secured our place in the Elite Cup.
Immediately, we found ourselves in the first semi final of the Elite Cup. Yet again,
playing the strongest team Cairo. This time, the tide had turned, Cairo came out stronger and their number 10 put in a brilliant display to give us a 6-0 thrashing (Number 10, scoring a hat trick). We were now playing for 3rd/4th position. Albeit a disappointing result, it was a realistic one, Cairo had been strong throughout the tournament. We were in fact, the only team able to defeat them that day and thereafter as they went on to become Elite Champions.
Spirits were still high, Saturday night in Verona is always great fun. A chance to bond further and enjoy the company of the players and our coaches Antony and Akos as we discuss football and life.
Day 3, with only one match to play but with exhausted bodies, we gave our all. We went swiftly into the lead with a convincing 2-0 by half time. However, we could not sustain this goal scoring lead and found ourselves defeated 3-2 by the final whistle.
Overall, a wonderful tournament with some optimistic play and surprising results. Lots to build on and a 4th place Elite position is not bad for a team that has never played together before. Indeed, Antony commented that this was the best he had ever seen us play as a team. The exciting challenge is that our team will get the chance to play together again next year in this tournament. If the players remain, we will be fielding a team with experience as only 2 players of this squad will move to Seniors next year. Good luck lads and a huge thanks to our coaches Antony and Akos!