Milano impresses at under-16 tourney

Milano United celebrate after winning the Rockafellas under-16 tournamnet in Mitchell's Plain last week.

Head coach Adriaan “Adey” Jansen said it was business as usual as they prepared for the tournament, which featured 32 teams from across the city.

Milano were drawn into Group H alongside Aberdeen from Atlantis, Leeds Lentegeur, and Stanturf United.

The Kinnes got off to a flying start on their road to the final. They beat Stanturf 3-0 in their opening game and secured 2-0 and 3-0 victories over Aberdene and Leeds, respectively.

“Leading up to the tournament we prepared the way we usually do for our league matches. Our style of play is based on the way our NFD (National First Division) team plays, and our approach to games always remains the same,” said Jansen.

“The boys did really well and we did not concede a goal until we got into the quarter-final. We topped our group and played Woodlands United in the last-16. They played good football but we pulled off a 3-0 win against them.

“Our quarter-final match against MPCE (Mitchell’s Plain Clinic of Excellence) was a really tight game. They gave us a good run and were the first team to score against us.

“At half-time the score was still level at 2-2, but the players picked up momentum and we scored another three goals to win the game,” he said.

Jansen said bringing home the first trophy for the club this season is a great achievement, but that winning was not the only goal at the tournament.

He said development was also a key element for them, which meant that three under-14 players were called into action.

Following their win against MPCE, Milano beat Stephanian Ottery in the semi-final to meet Ikapa Sporting in the final.

“We included some of the younger players in the squad to see how they would perform on a bigger stage – and they did. One of them, Chaz Gelderbloom, won the tournament for us when he scored in our 1-0 win against Ikapa.

“I think our clash against Stephs was our toughest test and the boys showed a lot of character in that game. Stephs came out guns blazing from the start and took a two goal lead into the break.

“At half-time, I encouraged the boys to continue to play from the back, to play our game, and that everything else would fall into place. Ten minutes into the second half, we pulled one back after the boys put more than 11 passes together in the build-up play.

“And, the game went up until the last minute when we got a penalty which Allister Charles converted to level the score at 2-2,” he said.

Allister’s showing in the tournament earned him the player of the tournament award; and goalkeeper Zidane Barends – who saved two penalties to win Milano the semi-final – won the goalkeeper of the tournament award.

Jansen said the achievements at the tournament is only the start of things to come. His side sits comfortably at the top of the Mitchell’s Plain Local Football Association (LFA) under-16 Super League, and are through to the semi-final of the Knockout Cup.

“We’ve had a flawless season so far and won all of our 14 league games. We’ve scored 60 goals and only conceded one. Beacon Pirates are in second position and we beat them 3-0, at the weekend.

“We are looking to win promotion to the Champions League for next season and are already preparing for next season. I always tell my players, in time of peace we prepare for war,” said Jansen.