In the first match for Day 2 of competition in the Canon Lion City Cup, Arsenal took on Eintracht Frankfurt. The match was a seven goal thriller, with the team from Germany coming out on top in the end.
Having won their first group match against the NFA U16 2-1, Arsenal made a few changes to their squad. Most notably, Harry Girling’s place in goal was taken up by Bradley House.
It was a nightmare Canon Lion City Cup debut for Bradley House however, as Eintracht forward Nils Herdt took only 50 seconds to net the first goal.
Arsenal pressed forward for an equaliser with left winger Joseph Willock keeping Eintracht’s right back busy. The English side were almost rewarded when Kaylen Hinds twisted himself free in the box but saw his placed shot hit the left post.
Eintracht Frankfurt then doubled their lead in the 25th minute when Ahmed Diack poked the past the keeper.
Arsenal finally got a goal in the 32nd minute when onrushing Eintracht goalkeeper Christian Seemann fouled Kaylen Hinds. Joseph Willock stepped up and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way.
Eight minutes later, Man-of-the-match Nils Herdt restored his team’s two goal cushion with his second goal when he headed in Murat Akcay’s corner.
At half time, Arsenal coach Kwame Ampadu made a number of changes including bringing in Chris Willock. The latter and along with his brother Joseph Willock continued to cause problems for Eintracht and their persistence paid off with Ukasyah Wallace smashing the ball into the back into the net after Rugare Mesendo’s header hit the post.
Arsenal’s equalising goal came in the form of a corner. Captain Hinds rose highest to head home.
If Arsenal thought they had grabbed a deserved point, they were quickly proven wrong in the 76th minute. A wonder goal from substitute Adrian Matushcewski gave the boys from Germany the win. Matushcewski received the ball from outside the area and struck a dipping shot which gave Bradley House no chance at all.
About the goal, Eintracht coach Abdessamad El Messaoudi said, “It was a great winning goal. One of a kind – something we do not see every day.”
“This is a long tournament, this is our first game. But we are a team that can win the tournament,” he added.
PSV team manager Armin Kraaz also praised the organisers and prestige of the Canon Lion City Cup.
“We are really excited to be here. This is the first time our youth are playing in Asia and it is a great honour to play in the Canon Lion City Cup. The first four days since our arrival on Friday have been wonderful. The tournament is extremely well organised by Red Card and everyone has been extremely friendly. In return, we want to deliver a good show.”
When asked if squad rotation was the reason for his side’s lost, Arsenal coach Kwame Ampadu disagreed.
He said, “I want to expose all my players to the tournament. We showed great spirit to come back from two goals down.”
Head of Youth Development at Arsenal Academy Liam Brady also agreed with Kwame.
“Size makes a difference at this age. We want to win this tournament, but we also need to give all our boys exposure. It was also a good experience for them to take part in the penalty shoot-out at the end of the match in front of a big crowd.”
In the second match, Singapore’s NFA U15s could not find a way past PSV’s Dutch goalkeeper Mike van de Meulenhof.
Both teams defended well with PSV shutting out U15’s main threat striker Hami Syahin and playmaker Royston Tan. PSV defender Armando Obispo kept a tight leash on Hami, not allowing the latter time and space on the ball.
At the other end, NFA U15 goalkeeper Kenji Rusydi had a solid game. He asserted his presence in the box well.
In the final 15 minutes of the second half, NFA U15 midfielder Haiqal Pashia Anugrah had a chance to win the game, but his curling shot failed to beat the goalkeeper.
NFA U15 coach Nazri Nasir praised his team for showing their fighting spirit.
“I would like to thank my team. I am very proud of them. Although they didn’t get the result we wanted, you can see they fought really hard. There’s nothing much I can say, except that I am very proud. They have learned a lot from these two games. To get a draw against PSV after a 0-7 defeat (against Corinthians), my boys showed everyone that they ready to compete at the next level.”
NFA U15 centre-back Danish Jefri was voted Man-of-the-Match after a commendable display.
“We defended our hearts out. We didn’t give up until the final whistle. Even though some of us received knocks, we pushed ourselves all the way and held on for a point,” said the 15 year old.
Coach Nazri’s counterpart Edwin de Wijs gave his thoughts after the game.
“It was a difficult game against Singapore who defended very well in their own half. They were very compact. We only created 3 chances in 80 minutes and that’s not enough. If you create chances, you have to score. If we had score, Singapore would have played more attacking football and the game would have been more open.”
“I am happy with the draw, especially when we are playing for the first time in such heat. The weather conditions are very tough. And for the boys to play in front of such a big crowd is difficult. I heard that Ajax did not start well in their first game for last year’s tournament (losing 2-1 to Singapore NFA U-16), so perhaps we will follow the same path too,” added Edwin.
After losing their penalty shootout, the NFA U15 team will now have to hope that PSV loses to Corinthians by more than seven goals, for them to qualify for the semi-finals.