Arsenal at the AlKass
by Andrew Crawshaw
An Arsenal U17 team, managed by Jan Van Loon, have been competing in the AlKass tournament in Qatar. This has attracted very little attention even on the official Arsenal.com website so I thought I would share some highlights with Untold.
AlKass is a Qatari sports channel, which has specialised in football.
The teams taking part were :- AC Milan, Aspire International, Aspire Qatar, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventas, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Sao Paulo, Athletico Madrid, River Plate, Vissel Kobe, and Shalke 04.
So a good selection of clubs representing the best of Europe, South America, Japan and the Aspire club who are training players destined to play for Qatar.
The competition ran from February 5 to 15, and Qatar at this time of year is relatively cool, residents would need a pullover or thin fleece if the wind gets up (remembering from my two years in Qatar a long time ago), for the rest of the time the temperature similar to a nice warm spring day.
The Arsenal team comprised a mix of schoolboys from the Hale End Academy, Young Professionals and a scattering of prospects from Arsenal soccer schools worldwide.
Goalkeepers – Hugo Keto (Finland U19 International); Brad House
Defence – Kristopher Da Graca (Sweenen U16), Owen Moore (schoolboy), Tolaji Bola, Jonatas Ribeiro, Kostas Pileas, Rugare Musendo (schoolboy)
Midfield – Ben Sheaf (England U16), Harry Donovan, Savvas Mourgos (Greece), Charlie Gilmour
Forwards – Kaylen Hinds (England U16), Joshua Da Silva (schoolboy), Stephy Mavididi, , Chris Willock (England U16), Agyei Tabi, Nathan Tella (schoolboy), Reiss Nelson (schoolboy), Edward Nketiah (schoolboy)
The tournament was split into four groups of three with the first games being in a league format. Arsenal were paired with Aspire Academy and Vissel Kobe, winning both games to top the group.
Arsenal v Vissel Kobe (3 – 2) on 5 Feb – A hat-trick from Stephy Mavididi proved too much for Kobe as the young gunners captained by Kaylen Hinds started the tournament with intent. Goals from Yasui and Mukai in the middle on the second half ensured that it wasn’t all one-way traffic. Unsurprisingly Mavididi voted Best Player
Aspire Qatar v Arsenal (0 – 3) on 8 Feb – Arsenal off to a fast start with Stephy Mavididi scoring in Minute 9, Harry Donovan in Min 14 and Chris Willock in Min 25 gave the hosts no chance and Arsenal safely through to the knockout stages where, no doubt sterner teats would await. Arsenal’s Harry Donovan voted Best Player
The teams eliminated at the group stager were Vissel Kobe, Shalke and Athletico Madrid, none of whom won a game and Juventus who managed one draw only.
In the knockout stage Arsenal’s first game was against River Plate who came second to AC Milan in their group. This was to prove a pivotal match in more ways than one.
Arsenal v River Plate (1 – 0) The only goal of the game was scored by Kaylen Hinds in the 64th minute of an ugly match. Four Argentine players were booked in the second half as were Keto and Hinds for Arsenal.
After the final whistle a full scale brawl erupted with the River Plate players taking out their frustrations on Arsenal. In the melee The Argentine goalkeeper Sotelo and Chris Willock were both sent off. Willock thereby missing our on appearing in the semi-final. Harry Donovan again voted Best Player.
Semi Final Arsenal v PSG (1 – 2) on 13 February – This game Arsenal really missed the attacking running of Willock as Arsenal failed to find the answer to a very well organised PSG team who scored on the half hour mark and again early into the second half. A determined effort to come back led to a Mavididi goal in Minute 65 but PSG held on to win two one and end Arsenal’s dream of reaching the final. Only the third place play-off instead. The French Striker Edouard Odsonne was Best Player.
Third Place Play-off AC Milan v Arsenal (2 – 4) 15 Feb. AC Milan were beaten 5 – 0 by Sao Paulo in the other semi-final and within the first 8 minutes found themselves two goals down to a rampant Arsenal with goals from Nketiah and DaSilva with Mavididi starting on the bench.
Arsenal started the second half in the same manner with the same two players scoring in the first nine minutes to make it four nil. AC Milan then staged something of a come back with two goals in a minute in the middle of the half but Arsenal held on for a four two win and third place. DaSilva was voted the best player.
Final Sao Paulo v PSG (3 – 4 penalties) – Oliviera opened the score for Sao Paulo mid-way through the first hals but PSG levelled with 11 minutes of normal time remaining. At full time several Sao Paulo players had to be treated for cramp.
PSG started the penalties with a powerful effort into the top corner, Sao Paulo low to the left to equalise, PSG then low to the left and Sao Paulo high to the right for two two. PSG then made a mistake, their third penalty coming back off the left hand post – advantage Sao Paulo. PSG then regained the initiative with their keeper saving. PSG then low right and Sao Paulo low left for three three. PSG with a slice of luck as penalty 5 sneaks in off the foot of the left hand post and the final Sao Paulo penalty too close to the PSG keeper who saves.
So PSG the winners overall, Sao Paulo forward Paula Da Silva was awarded the Most Valuable Player award and Stephy Mavididi won the Golden Boot award with five goals.
A great experience for all of the players and some more new names to look out for in the coming years.
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