HIGHLIGHTS: A slideshow of all the pictures from our trip
DAY 6 – JULY 2nd, 2011
Update: So I just promised two of the boys that whoever won the plank competition would get 1 Euro for the vending machine and get their name on the blog….the competition ended 10 minutes ago after 50 minutes….yes that’s right the competition lasted 50 minutes as both Ethan V and Tommy T wowed us all keeping a plank for 50 minutes….good on them.
Well we are back form our exhibition game with TPV Tampere. After a few hiccups we managed to actually play the game, we were on Field 1 (Turf) at Jamor National Sports Complex. We only had 8 boys who wanted to play as others were off sightseeing or at the beach, so we were able to borrow a few players from TPV. Supposedly all their players wanted to play with us which I thought was pretty neat. The game was actually really good quality and fairly even. Both teams played hard and the playing styles were very similar as the ball was knocked around quickly on the ground.
Long story short the game was very enjoyable for everyone involved including a whole bunch of spectators who were in the complex that came by to watch.
Half the group is back here at the hotel, we are getting cleaned up and will be heading out for dinner at 7pm.
Everyone is looking forward to going back home.
DAY 5 – JULY 1st, 2011
Well the tournament is now over for us, but it has been a great time and experience for all.
The morning was a bit quieter than usual with all the boys waking upnat 545am and then down for breakfast at 6. At the end of breakfast all the boys went and put on their Canadian tattoos they brought for the game. We got to the field at 7 and got ready for the game. One of the sporting Lisbon coaches passed by and gave us some info on PSG mainly that it was the fastest team he had ever seen. Like the last game the sprinklers were turned on before the game to soften and wet the pitch making it a faster surface to play on.
The game started off with a fast and furious pace but with PSG clearly enjoying more time on the ball. Boys adjusted well to their pace and style of play denying them any possession in dangerous areas. However about 10 mins in and on two quick counter attacks PSG scored 2 goals on their first 2 shots of the game. They only had one other shot the rest of the half as the defense really stepped up and played well.
With a few mins left in the half we had our best chance as some good pressure forced a turnover where our striker rounded one of the defenders and took a shot which was inches away from the goal with the goalie frozen in his place.
Second half the boys picked it up and started enjoying a few spells of possession as they became more composed on the ball. Something else that was clearly evident was the level of physicality the boys played with, going into tackles hard, contesting balls in the air and trying to win the 50-50 balls. The game was put out of reach when a hard shot that was going clearly wide deflected off one of our defenders and into the net leaving the goalkeeper stranded. The fourth goal was again a deflection of a defenders shin pad as he attempted to block a shot with the ball going in next to the post. The last goal was scored with a minute or so left and was a very well taken goal.
On the whole PSG was deserving of the victory and made the most of their chances.
After the game we had a quick chat and everyone headed on their ways to go sightseeing etc. I stayed at the fields with a few boys where we watched FC Porto U15s and U16s lose to Salvador FC U15 (7-6 in pks) and Aspire Academy Qatar 1-0.
A few of us are heading back to the fields at 4 to watch the semifinals. There should be some excellent games with Sporting, PSG, Aspire, Vasco de Gama, Valencia, and Sevilla all in action. The rest are off sightseeing.
Well that’s all for now I’ll post again tonight or sometime tomorrow!
DAY 4 – JUNE 30th, 2011
Just got back to the hotel and ordered dinner in here for everyone. We have a 9pm bedtime tonight (90mins right now till bed time) and that is because we have advanced and are playing tomorrow morning 8am vs. Paris St. Germain (PSG) at Jamor 3.
This morning did our usual thing of breakfast followed by a quick meeting. With only a few days left everyone is getting ancy to see the sights and sounds of Lisbon. A few went to visit the castles at Sintra and others went to Decathalon in Amadora, which is like a Wal-Mart sized sports store! Both groups had good fun on the trips and had lots to tell each other when they met at the Jamor national sports complex for lunch. It was quite a hot day today as there was very little breeze so we kept in the shade until near game time.
As we got to the field and started to knock the ball the sprinklers came on and proceeded to wet the ground for the next 5 minutes or so. The boys warmed up with good intensity and looked focus. The first ten minutes Iraklis FC had control of the game as they kept up hemmed in our half with very little going forward. The boys slowly started to play their way in the game making a few passes together, and starting to fight back physically throwing themselves into tackles. The end of the first half saw the boys start to press more and higher up the field with Iraklis now on the back foot trying to get out of their half.
The boys responded really well the challenges the coaching staff gave them at half time and came out on a mission. Iraklis started to struggle with the pace we had all over the field and the defense really stepped up and stated winning ball after ball in the air. A few tackles near the box in the row really pushed to the momentum in our favour with each free kick resulting in a near miss on the ensuing shot. With about 8 minutes left we finally took one of the chances we had, with a corner played into the backpost was won in the air and flew into the back of the net. It was a great header as the attacker rose up above two players to win the ball and put us ahead. A few minutes later Iraklis was very lucky to not be down a man as their last defender slid and took the legs out of the FC London Striker who was in clear. With some persistent fouling and good possession play the boys managed the last few minutes very well and we are off to the Quarters!
Again we haven’t necessarily played our best soccer in terms of the way the boys normally play, but kudos to them to dealing with the weather conditions, different fields and styles of play over the past few games and once again found themselves ahead on the scoresheet at the end of the game.
We are just waiting on our food and the boys are off to bed at 9pm with a 6am wake-up time tomorrow! At the field at 7am, Kick-Off at 8am.
DAY 3 – JUNE 29th, 2011
Its hard to believe another day is almost over as time is really starting to fly now that we are in a groove here.
Today we met for breakfast again, with a quick meeting afterwards to discuss the vents of the day. A few people took off for Bellum (sp?) to do some sightseeing while others headed to the shopping mall to hit up Sportzone and some other places. Most had lunch at the mall again with everyone trying out new and different eating places. Today I had the famous ‘Ola’ ice cream I had heard oh so much from Manny. I give Manny credit as it lived up to it’s billing. Quite a few of the boys made some great purchases from Sportzone either buying shoes or some Sporting Lisbon or FC Porto gear. After the mall we headed back to the hotel to pack and get our gear ready for the game.
With a slight later kick-off we got to watch a few teams play before us with one of them being FC Porto U15s. My word were they good, knocking the ball around confidently each displaying a great deal of confidence on the ball with their individual ability and combination play out of tight spaces. One of the goals we saw had a sequence of about 2-3 minutes of straight possession followed by a give and go 20 yards out and a chip over the defense to a midfielder making a late run who then chested the ball and volleyed it over the on-rushing goalkeeper. Pretty spectacular stuff.
We also watched a game between AC Santarem and a Spanish team that was on before us. It was a hard fought tightly contested game with the Spanish team coming out on top. We warmed up at the end of the field in a make shift sort of endzone after the end of the first half. The boys were very focused as they warmed up, knowing a tie or win puts them in 2nd at we play at 4pm tomorrow, where as a loss and a CF Estrela Amadora upset over Sporting would result in us playing in the Playoff B at 8am tomorrow.
The game was played on another lovely turf pitch right next to a rugby practice field. Our referees were from Italy, which was interesting as some of the calls they made were very anti-italian in nature if that makes sense. We played Kostkas from Spain and the boys started our very well, getting the ball on the ground and passing it around. Kostkas played a very high-line and it was very evident that the wide defenders would be unable to keep up with the pace of our forwards. The boys played to their strengths first half and although we had a number of close chances (a few missed breakaways, a few set pieces, and a few questionable off-sides) we managed to score finally near the end of the first half (1-0 at the end of the half).
Second half, the boys had the wind behind them and they played the ball around with the confidence they had gained from the first half and they played the ball around until finally they made another breakthrough as a shot from the outside of the box, deflected off a Kostkas defender and into the net. Soon after that, one of their defenders took down an FC London Academy forward from behind viciously making no attempt at the ball after he got by the defender, and was shown a straight Red Card. After the sending off the game picked up physically and our boys remained calm, kept moving the ball and found success a few more times highlight by another bullet of a free kick from 35 yards out into the upper90.
Two parents managed to watch our opponents tomorrow, the Winners of Group F Iraklis from Greece earlier in the day. It will be a very tough challenge for the boys as the Greek team looked very strong and smart on the ball.
After the game we headed to the Food Area at Jamor National Sports Complex for dinner where we had spaghetti and meat sauce which was quite good. During dinner a few boys from Vasco De Gama U13s (Brazil) and the Maritimo FC U15s (Portugal) started singing/chanting some of their clubs songs, and it soon turned into the whole food area conga line lead by the Brazilians. This lasted the duration of dinner and most of our boys joined in on the song and dance…although we really do need to work on some FC London songs as the boys resorted to the singing of the Canadian national anthem that was very quickly drowned out by some of the Portuguese teams.
We are back at the hotel its about 1015pm here the and boys will be heading up to bed in about a minute!
Tomorrow we play at 4pm in the Round of 16, depending on the result we will either play on Friday AM or we’ll be done. Either way the boys have done themselves proud and slowly have adjusted well to their travels.
I’ll try to upload some pictures of videos of the game soon….have to get the kids in their rooms to sleep…so long for now.
DAY 2 – JUNE 28th, 2011
Well day two here went much smoother than day 1. We all had a good day, started off with a continental breakfast followed by quick parent and player meeting to discuss the days events.
We went out for lunch to Oerais Parque (a mall) located a few a minutes from our hotel. Looks like quite a nice mall, lots of options for lunch, and shopping. There is also a movie theatre located there that plays English with Portuguese subtitles so we’ve all agreed that will be a night activity on an upcoming day. A few of the boys found SportsZone which is a mix of SportCheck and SVP (in toronto).
After we came back to the hotel and left for the field in Carcavelos. We got to the field and it turned out to be this lovely turf pitch used by Benfica as one of their training centers. There were no teams on the field before us so we had a long time to warm-up on the field and made the most of it.
The game started and it was very very windy. Both teams tried to get comfortable and looked to move the ball around, but very quickly the game became quite chippy as each team looked to assert their dominance on the game CF Estrela Amadora picked up 2 yellows in the span of about 5 minutes during the first half. The first half ended with scoreless. Second half was a completely different game, with the wind behind us, the boys started to knock the ball a bit more, but the level of physical intensity definitely picked up. Estrela Amadora scored of the rebound of a free kick about 20 yards out 5 minutes into the second half. The team responded well with increased urgency and started to get that goal back. With time winding down one of the boys was taken down from behind which resulted in a free kick which we scored from distance into the top corner. The boys looked inspired and kept fighting back realizing that they could win the game. With less than a minute to go the opposing gk misplayed his touch and brought down one of our strikers attempting to get to the ball. We put away the PK and the whistle blew right after the restart. The boys were ecstatic with the win.
Although the game wasn’t the prettiest, not one of the best most of the boys had played but this game gave them belief that they could take on good European competition and be successful.
After that we went out for dinner to the Wind Club where we got pizza’s from last night and all the parents are relaxing in the lobby now that the kids are asleep.
That’s all for now….. more to come tomorrow….we play Kostkas from Spain at 6pm at Jamor National Complex.
Short Video Clips from Today’s Game: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?p=PLF6A2C934BDBEF28F
Well this is my third attempt at writing this post, hopefully it will get posted successfully and I won’t lose the entire post!
So we played Sporting Lisbon yesterday at 4 at the Jamor Sports Complex on a great field, very well looks after, completely fenced in and smaller than the typical North American field size we are used to.
The boys played excellent in the first half as they kept Sporting off the scoresheet (0-0 at half). second half was a different story as sporting scored early on meaning our game plan had to adjust. The boys picked up their urgency and physicality and performed quite well as they started to possess the ball more. Although sporting scored a couple more goals late in the game the boys can be proud of their performance as they played very well against one of the worlds best academies.
The Sporting coach after the game said that he noticed some of the boys were a bit younger and that he was also very impressed with how well the boys played! He didn’t think we would have been competitive with them at all and he commented on how well the defense played as well.
The boys can be proud of their performance as many played excellent, a few of them eve probably had the best game that I have at least seen them play.
For those of you who know me well, know that I can talk your ear off, but that sporting team in many ways leaves me speechless – their technical ability, physicality, desire, determination, understanding of the game and passion was great to see.
After the game we went to the opening ceremonies were four boys were the flag bearers for Canada. The boys had a great time.
We are now staying at the holiday inn express in oeiras after a slight hiccup with our accommodation. However everyone is in good spirits, had a great dinner last night, an awesome night of sleep and a big breakfast this morning!
More to follow tonight…
I will be using this blog to update everyone on the happenings of the FC London Academy team travelling to the Lisboa Cup 2011 June 27-July 2, 2011.
Please check back frequently for updates. I will do my best to write a post each night of the trip with as many details as I can pack in.
Thanks for reading….