AFC Wimbledon Under-18s will finally get the opportunity to win silverware in the Youth Alliance Cup Final next Tuesday after a nine-month wait!
The young Dons triumphed 1-0 against Cambridge in the Southern Area Final back in February, but the Coronavirus pandemic meant that the national final against Rotherham was postponed. However, the Dons will face Rotherham on Tuesday afternoon at the New York Stadium (4.00 pm kick-off) with Under-18s manager Rob Tuvey aiming to guide Wimbledon to glory.
“It’s crazy to think that we were preparing for this game in March and now we are standing here in November and it’s finally going to happen,” said Rob. “To be honest, I didn’t think it was going to happen. I got news during the first lockdown about it, but then we heard nothing until about a month or two ago. It’s a great honour to take this team into a national final. To do this with Michael (Hamilton) and James (Oliver-Pearce), coaches who have been here a long time, would make it a massive achievement to get some silverware for the club.”
Our Under-18s head into the match with confidence high after an excellent FA Youth Cup victory against Oxford United. Julian Sarmiento-Ramirez, who dreams of playing international football for Colombia, where his family are from, scored the winner in that match. The winger, who came off the bench to score the winner in the Southern Area Final back in February, is regarded as a real talent by our academy coaches.
Rob added: “We had a massive recruitment drive at Under-12s and our Head of Talent ID at the time brought in 16 boys and Julian was one of those that came in. He wasn’t with another club and we just noticed this talented South American dribbler with great balance and tenacity. I remember myself and Robbo at the time saying ‘wow, who is this kid?’ He has always been a match-winner and a player who really tries to take the game by the scruff of the neck. I think other clubs maybe looked at his size as an issue. The tenacity he has is what we loved in him, we didn’t consider his size.
“He was born and raised in London, but with his South American background, Julian is a proud Colombian because his family are from there. He has had interest as regards international football and we are hoping he can really kick-on now. Media from Colombia have been over to interview him a couple of times. His dream is to play for Colombia one day and we hope we can create the pathway for him to do that.”
Keep an eye on the official website and social media in the build-up to Tuesday's game for an in-depth preview, as the young Dons bid for national glory.