Muscat Football Academy bow out of Intercontinental Cup
February 15, 2020 | 8:29 PM
by Times News Service
The tournament was held over a three-day period in Dubai.

Muscat: Muscat Football Academy’s young players are flying home after bowing out of the Intercontinental Cup, following defeat in the semi-finals of the silver category.

The tournament, which was held over a three-day period in Dubai, saw youth teams from football sides such as FC Porto, Bayern Munich, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and many other teams from around the world come to the Middle East to take part.

Although MFA’s boys are heartbroken to leave the tournament just one step away from the final, MFA head coach Chuck Martini says his team played really well, and gained plenty of experience from this event. Speaking to Times of Oman, he said, “It’s been a fantastic three or four days of football, because the cream of world football was here. We had quite a lot of clubs from around the world: Zamalek from Egypt were there, as were a host of professional clubs from the United Arab Emirates.

“Muscat Football Academy has done fantastically well. The team was captained by Mees Eppink, who impressed everyone, and had them marvelling at his talent, and this included teams like Arsenal and Bayern,” he added.

“Moatasim Al Khuseibi and Mahmoud Al Jarwani are also on the lists of a few professional clubs. We had a young team with some experienced players, and everyone did well.”

With the tournament being split into two sections – gold and silver – the teams that qualified at the top of the group stages would go through to the gold division, with the others entering the silver. MFA lost 4-0 to Japanese side JEF United – considered the tournament’s surprise package after they held Bayern to a 2-2 draw, and then put up a brave show against Bayern themselves, although they ultimately lost 2-0 to the Bavarian giants.

A 1-1 draw against Shabab Al Ahli, the youth side of Emirati professional outfit Al Ahli, rounded off the group fixtures, and set the stage for a sensational win against Egyptian powerhouse Zamalek.

“That was where I felt all my boys turned up, because Zamalek had all the play – I have to admit, they dominated from start to finish – but we stuck to our plan, and in the 40th minute, Moatasim Al Khuseibi took on two players and smashed the ball into the top corner,” added Martini, a former Morocco international goalkeeper.

“That gave us a 1-0 lead and we hold on to win the game.

“It’d been a fantastic scalp for MFA, and it took us to the semifinals where we played Al Wasl,” added the former Leicester City goalkeeper.

“Although their senior team have won the domestic UAE professional league, I felt that for 35 minutes we were the better team, we dominated, had chances, and hit both post and bar.”

However, despite MFA conceding a late goal owing to a lapse in concentration, Martini felt a number of refereeing decisions went against his young side...decisions that could’ve affected the final outcome of the game.

“Al Wasl, who were essentially playing at home team got a lot of decisions going their way: we were denied a blatant penalty, maybe with the tournament being held in Dubai, the referee tended to favour them,” admitted Martini.

“We were denied a stonewall penalty, but a lapse in concentration in the 37th minute gave Al Wasl the lead.

“This has been a great experience for the boys, to play such teams and to meet some quality youth players is great,” he added. “Our players are heartbroken at the moment, but they will take the positives from this, and hopefully, a few clubs would’ve taken an interest in our players.”

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