Young Blues reach quarter-finals of Hong Kong tournament
- 24 May 2014 13:47
- Posted by @roline_mcfc
City's youngsters have qualified for the quarter-finals of the HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens tournament, having notched up one win and two draws in the group stage.
The Blues kicked off their campaign with a 4-0 win over Singapore Cricket Club which unsurprisingly, Jason Wilcox deemed the highlight of the day. Goals from Thierry Ambrose, Brandon Barker, Angelino and James Horsfield secured the win, ensuring the youngsters clinched the perfect start in the competition.
Reflecting on the triumph, he declared: "The first game is always one that you want to get out of the way with a victory, irrespective of the performance, but I thought the performance was really good.
"It’s the first time we’ve played in this format. Only one player came last year so I’m really pleased! We moved the ball well and I thought we defended well. We’re a very young group and we stood up to the physicality as well so it’s good."
City then locked horns with Hong Kong First Division club BC Rangers but were left disappointed, after the Blues surrendered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2. Once again, Ambrose wrote his name onto the scoresheet, netting both strikes.
After the game, Wilcox stated: "We got off to a great start, but then slipped into a little bit of complacency, especially going two up. In this competition, if you switch off for a minute, you can concede a goal, so it’s a real learning curve for the lads.
"Thierry’s a very exciting player. He's very powerful and he’s got a bright future."
The Blues needed at least a draw in their final group game to ensure their progression to the next stage. For the first time in the tournament, City had to come from behind against Rangers, salvaging a point with another goal from Barker.
"I was really pleased with how we performed," smiled Wilcox. "We showed courage and character to get back into it after going a goal down. We’re playing in a different climate which is extremely difficult."
Like last year, City have opted to field a young squad made up of ten players drawn exclusively from Wilcox’s title-winning under-18s side - a decision he feels will prove to be an advantage.
"We’ve just got an enthusiasm and a lot of pace around the team," he asserted. "Obviously, we’re smaller than the rest in terms of physical size - that’s only going to be natural - but if we move the ball like we can, then it's very difficult for teams to cope with our ability so we’ve just got to now look forward to the next game and hopefully we can play as well as that."
Wilcox also highlighted the importance of tournaments such as the HKFC Soccer Sevens, claiming: "It exposes the players to a different culture and a different format of playing.
"They’ve got a lot of travelling and different climates so it’s great for them to come over, meet people and sign autographs - it’s all part of their development."
City will compete in the quarter-finals tomorrow hoping to improve on last-year's finish, when they were knocked out at the same stage to Rangers. The Blues will face HKFA Under-23s at 11:25am local time.