Muscat: Youth coaches from Manchester City Football Club will train young players from the Muscat Football Academy after they won the under-12 division of the Manchester City Abu Dhabi Cup held last weekend.
Six teams made the journey from Muscat to Abu Dhabi, and although only one team lifted silverware, many of them topped their qualification rounds to make it through to the respective gold sections of the tournament, where they faced the youth outfits of several professional clubs.
“It is run by Manchester City, so their coaches will come over here for a week to train our children, and this will be an amazing experience,” said MFA Head Coach Chuck Martini.
“Our under-12s were triumphant in Abu Dhabi. Some of our players were actually nine and 10 years old – so they were playing two years above their age bracket- and they were the ones who brought home the trophy. I do
believe two or three of these players have the skill to play at the highest level.”
The former Leicester City goalkeeper added, “Considering there were about 40 teams in each age category, I think we did well to pick up some silverware. We had really good performances from some of our younger players. This was a real roller-coaster of emotions over the weekend. We took 120 people to Abu Dhabi – 90 players and about 20 or 30 parents – so there was a real family atmosphere, and people were happy to see their children play in a top tournament, which I consider this to be.”
Muscat Football Academy entered their under-8s, under-10s, under-12s, two under-14 teams, and an under-16 team. Mwasalat, Oman’s national transportation company, had provided them with two buses to make the road trip from Muscat to Abu Dhabi.
“It was a long journey, but definitely an enjoyable one on the two buses,” explained Martini. “There was plenty of laughter on the bus going up, and plenty to shout about on the way back. Our results in Abu Dhabi were fantastic. Our under-16s finished fifth overall in the tournament, which had 35 teams. We narrowly missed out on a place in the final because our goalkeeper got sent off and this affected our qualification through to the final. We lost 2-1, and ended up playing for the fourth and fifth-place spot.
“Our Under-14s won their group,” said the former Morocco international goalie. “Despite it being a tough group with FC Barcelona Escola Dubai, Spanish Soccer Schools, and an academy from Egypt, we ended up topping the group and qualifying for the Gold division, where we faced two professional sides, CFR Cluj from Romania and Australian top division side Melbourne City FC. We lost to Cluj 1-0 and 2-0 to Melbourne. We beat IF Academy from Dubai, and we ended up finishing fourth overall. Both under-16s and under-14s topped their group and qualified for the gold section, and the under-12s were crowned champions. They beat a Kuwaiti academy 1-0 in the final. It was a very tight game and we created plenty of chances,” added Martini.