Under-15s reach quarter-finals of international tournament
AFC Wimbledon under 15s bowed out of the Gallini World Cup in Italy after an impressive run to the last eight.
Though Wimbledon were knocked out by the Romanian U-15 national team in the quarter finals, losing 4-0, it was a tremendous experience for the young Dons and Academy Head of Football Mark Robinson was delighted with his side’s overall performance.
"We played in a fantastic tournament and the standard was very high,” said Mark. “Being in an U-15 tournament with 13 of our 16 players under the age of 14, it was physically very tough for the lads, but they coped admirably.
“The game against the Romanian U-15 national side was a real eye opener for the boys. As they were the hardest working youth side I have ever seen and had plenty of talent, it was a fantastic challenge for the boys. We made a few silly errors that were punished, but we produced some individual performances that really pleased me.”
Dons U-15s reached the knockout stages of the competition with an impressive 5-0 win against local Italian side Liventina and a quarter-final place was secured with a victory against Imolese Calcio 1919.
“As well as beating Italian sides, we also drew with Red Star Belgrade, who have one of the most productive academies in Europe and drew with Venezia. They had two Italian U-15 internationals in the side and are currently a club flourishing with huge new investment.”
Before their big win over Liventina, the young Dons faced Serbian giants Red Star Belgrade and Serie B team Venezia, both games ending 1-1 respectively. Dons took the lead in both games but conceded late on.
Mark added: “The view from the locals was that Red Star Belgrade would overpower us as they are one of the favourites and have one of the most productive academies in Europe. I am pleased to say the boys gained a lot of admirers after controlling the game for long spells.
“I have had some good honest chats with the boys over the four days and they are all clear what they need to do to keep progressing. There is no doubt though we have some potential outstanding talent coming through and I look forward to seeing how hungry they are to keep on improving.”