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Gibraltar U16 Head Coach Reviews UEFA Development Tournament

Our U16's have just returned from a UEFA Development Tournament in Malta where they took on Andorra, Liechtenstein & hosts Malta.  For many of these youngsters the tournament would be their first ever exposure to international football. Head Coach Jonathan Sodi looks back at their week in Malta: 

For many of the players competing in the tournament, it was their first exposure to international football. Our main target was exactly that, to give the players as much playing time and exposure as possible so they could begin to experience the thrills of representing Gibraltar as well as opening their eyes to the levels they are expected to react to compete on the international scene. We wanted to test these players both on and off the pitch at a high level see how they react to managed with situations that would be new to them on a football pitch.. 

Game 1 - Gibraltar 0 v 2 Liechtenstein

The message at the beginning was for our boys to play without fear. And so they did. It took  a few minutes for some of the players to get into the faster pace of the game, but having made a promising start we ultimately lost 2 - 0.  However not without giving Liechtenstein a run for their money.  For the first time ever  (at this level) we had gps systems strapped onto the players it was encouraging to see that the team had done a fair amount of running. From a Coaches perspective it was satisfying to see that players were understanding the tactical information being given to them. 

Game 2 - Gibraltar 0 v 6 Malta

Malta the tournament hosts, were always going to eb the toughest opponents of the tournament and this was indeed the case. They took an early lead. However, we responded well and fought hard only to have a player sin binned towards the end of the half. Malta capitalised on the fact we played with 10 players for 8 minutes to go 3 - 0 up at half time. The weather conditions were not the best as we played against the strong winds in the second half and finished  losing 6-0. However the result was not a clear reflection of the work rate the team had put in and obviously some were disappointed at the score. There had been an improvement but football is sometimes this cruel.

Game 3 - Gibraltar 1 v 1 Andorra . Gibraltar win on penalties.

The final game of the tournament and they boys were ready and they gave it their all. We went 1 - 0 down early on, the boys battled hard  to come back into the game and we got a penalty which was calmly slotted in. 1- 1 at half time with lots to play for. We did tire in the second half and Andorra had some clear opportunities, only to be foiled by some resolute defending and some great goalkeeping. The boys run themselves to the ground and kept their focus to see their hard work rewarded with a well deserved draw and then the penalty shoot out. This resulted in a roller coaster ride of emotions for players and staff only to see us come off winners in the end with our goalkeeper turning out to be the hero of the day with 4 penalty saves.

 

 

All in all an excellent experience for the boys which has tested them both on and off the pitch.  They have been exposed to hydration tests, tactical team talks, video analysis, recovery sessions, and even fitness tests prior to the tournament, which will provide them with the necessary information to develop appropriately. A good development tournament in a whole and happy to have come home with a win. I'd like to thank the players for their efforts and hope they take heart from the final game to push them on to bigger and better things. Also a big thanks to all the technical team who's work behind the scenes has been amazing.

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