Our first game was against AZ Alkmaar, which again would be a great test for the players. Swindon went 1-0 up through Rhys Wells and it looked like Swindon would complete the win but again as the day before, Swindon were unable to maintain control of the game and allowed individual errors happen. As I said to the players on Saturday and reiterated again on Sunday, that mistakes that will happen in our own games programme and will go unpunished, due to the nature of our opponents. In this tournament where we are competing with Europe's elite clubs, we would get punished and this was the case, eventually going down 3-1.
We then had a quick turnaround for our second game where we would play Kashiwa Reysol from Japan. I had watched them previously and they were a great attacking side that played very quickly and again, would be a test for our now tired squad. We lost the game 2-0 but at times, we struggled to maintain possession and in periods spent a lot of the time without the ball but we maintained our shape well.
Our third and final game we played DSKO from Holland and they were a huge side physically with some of their players three years above our players. This showed in the physical presence that we couldn't compete with. With our eighth game in two days, we looked very tired and with a depleted team, due to injuries that we had picked up over the last two days, we lost the game 3-0.
The official standings for the tournament were as follows
16th Kashiwa Reysol
15th Den Haag
14th Swindon Town
12th Sparta Rotterdam
11th AZ Alkmaar
3rd Bayer Leverkusen
2nd Borussia Dortmund
Overall, it was good to watch the final where Borussia Dortmund lost to Feyenoord 2-1, knowing that we played Feyenoord on the Saturday and were 2-1 up until late on win the final. The games were very hard for our players and physically and mentally draining for them. We were hoping that it would have helped the personal development with playing and watching these teams. The tournament was for players born in 2001 and although we didn't finish that high in the overall standings, at least six players can go again next year and pass on their experience and knowledge of what they learned for next year's tournament.
It's important that the players are stronger for the tournament in their individual development plan and can take lots of positives from the four days that we have been together, to now carry on, when they return to training on Tuesday and then back to Fulham on Thursday for games. I would like to thank the players for their efforts, the staff for taking time off from their own jobs to support the players in Holland and Peter Kordula from Barnes Coaches to navigate us from The County Ground to Holland and back again safely, as always. I would also like to thank him for his continued enthusiasm in seeing the players hopefully one day being on the first team coach again in years to come.