Sydney FC's Academy sides begin their journey home from Holland on Thursday. So lets take at look at how our squads fared in their games against some high quality opposition.
Match 1 vs NEC Nijmegen
Sydney FC’s Academy sides had to share the spoils in their first group of matches in Holland, coming away with a win, a draw and a loss against NEC Nijmegen.
The U15s side were victorious 2-0 against Nijmegen’s U16s side, showing the true class of the Sky Blues in this age group, as they played against a team of players a year older than them, outplaying them on the day.
The win included great goals from Aidan Simmons, who dribbled through a plethora of defenders to score, and Aiden Mostofi who found himself one-on-one with the opposition goalkeeper and had the courage to chip him to the back of the net.
The U14s were the better side in their 2-2 draw against the hosts, and the two goals that they unfortunately conceded came from a penalty and a corner.
The Sky Blues dominated the contest but were unable to secure a victory and took a lot out of the first game of their campaign.
Sydney FC’s U13s came up against a very strong Nijmegen side who defeated the visiting side 3-0.
Match 2 vs Utrecht
The second group of fixtures for Sydney FC’s Academy were exceptionally tough, as the home side Utrecht were able to defeat the visitors in all three age groups in impressive fashion.
The U13s competed in an even game of football and were the most competitive of the three sides until Utrecht scored with a high up-and-under goal.
The U14s had their chances to get closer to a victory, but were unfortunately on the wrong end of a 7-2 defeat as the hosts were strong and fielded a team boasting five Dutch National team players.
The Sky Blues U15s dominated in the first half of their clash with Utrecht but were only able to score the one goal and a key Utrecht substitution in the second stanza changed the game for the hosts as they went on to win 4-2.
The boys rose to the challenge and it was great to watch them compete with a team that included four Dutch National team players and Sydney FC’s Technical Director – Youth, Kelly Cross was impressed with the performance of the Sky Blues on the day.
“When you consider these boys have never played opponents as good as these, or played teams with such quality and intensity, they have responded really well to the challenge,” he said.
Match 3 vs Vitesse Arnhem/Feyenoord
Sydney FC Academy’s tour of Holland continued with impressive matches against highly-rated Vitesse Arnhem for the U14s and U15s, who were able to hang with some of the best young talent in the country.
The U14s came away with a 4-2 victory against a really strong opponent in Vitesse Arnhem and in a well-deserved win as the Sky Blues created far more goalscoring opportunities.
Sydney FC’s Technical Director – Youth, Kelly Cross described it as ‘great game to watch’ and said the boys did well to perform against such a top academy side with huge financial resources, quality players and experienced staff.
The Sydney FC U15s side were very impressive in their 1-1 draw with Vitesse in tough conditions which saw heavy, icy rain that the boys are certainly not used to playing in here in Australia.
They played very well and dominated large portions of the match, creating more opportunities than their opponent, and only conceded via a free kick that was driven low into a crowded area and deflected off a leg into the bottom corner.
The U13s side fell to a quality Feyenoord outfit 1-0, but showed plenty of encouraging signs and Cross said it was ‘one of the best U13 games’ he has seen, ‘with two very even teams playing good football in a competitive spirit.’
Match 4 vs Ajax
In the final group of matches for the Sydney FC Academy’s tour of Holland, both the U13s and U15s were defeated by the powerhouses of Dutch football despite the best efforts of the young Sky Blues.
In the U15s the boys played a very competitive game, but were defeated 1-0 despite many impressive individual performances from the lads in a side that included some of the Sydney FC Under 14s squad.
Ajax dominated possession but found it hard to break down the Sky Blues’ defence, and there were plenty of half-chances for Sydney FC, which included one very good opportunity which was thwarted by the Ajax keeper coming out as last defender and flattening the Sydney FC striker. He was lucky to escape with just a yellow card.
The Sky Blues also missed a chance to equalise in the last minute from close range but the header went narrowly wide, ending the tour with a loss against a high-quality opponent.
The U13s were defeated 5-0 by Ajax, but the scoreline does not fully reflect how this match played out as three goals in the space of just five minutes after half-time put the game out of reach for the Sky Blues.
The opposition had what Sydney FC’s Technical Director – Youth, Kelly Cross described as ‘early developers’ that were bigger, stronger and quicker than the Sydney FC thirteen-year olds, and it took a while for the Ajax coach to consider evening up the contest. When he did finally take off the big lads, the last period of the game was a more balanced affair.
Overall it was a massive learning experience for the boys in a tour that not too many teenagers have the luxury of going on, and it will surely be something these young guns take a lot out of moving forward both on a football level and a personal one.