TCFC Do Singapore Proud at Ibercup 2017
Whichever way you look at them, the stats surrounding Turf City FC’s first trip to the Ibercup in Estoril, Portugal are impressive. With teams entered into the Under-9, Under-11 and Under-13 age groups, the boys came away with one win, one runners-up spot and one quarter finals place to conclude what was an incredibly successful and valuable trip for the academy as a whole.
The first games in a football tournament are always daunting.
Add to that tension a 12,000 kilometre journey and a match against the Liverpool FC youth academy and the Turf City FC Under-9s had their work cut out as the Ibercup kicked off on Tuesday, 4 July 2017.
Still, with an awesome opportunity ahead of them the boys took to the field with confidence and enthusiasm. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be for the TCFC team though as, despite a late consolation from Yuki Kasama, a very strong Liverpool side netted three goals to take a 3–1 victory.
Onto the 11s and 13s, and the TCFC boys had further mixed fortunes on day one. While the 13s could manage only a 0–0 draw with Madrid Fusion, the 11s dominated touring squad Canadian All Stars 5–0 to make it one win, one draw, one loss after the first day of action.
Despite the change in climate, culture and even continent, all age groups were able to show our ability to play football the Turf City FC way.Coach Chris
Pleased to get a somewhat nervy start out of the way, Turf City FC came out guns ablazing on day two.
First up again were the Under-9s who quickly put the Liverpool loss behind them with a 3–1 win against US Lusitanos before the U11s made it 13 goals from two games as they hammered local side Central 32 8–0.
Not to be outdone, the U13s took their own tally to 13 goals with a 13–0 romp of the 2004 Central 32 team.
One match remained on day two as the Turf City FC Under-11s faced CD Pinhalnovense. Sergio Canos Cervera got a goal early for TCFC but an equaliser and then a second goal from the Portuguese club put Pinhalnovense ahead going into the second half.
A late Joshua Tucker strike brought Turf City back level but the U11s’ perfect record had gone with a 2–2 final result.
Thursday, 6 July saw the last group stage matches for the Under-9s. With three points from the first two days, wins against Sonho XXI FC and Estoril AC would be enough to send the boys into Playoff A to fight for overall Ibercup Estoril honours. Coaches Chris and Lali were taking one game at a time though, and approached the first match fully focused on picking up an important three points.
The team responded well, and goals from Luka Hodak and Ewan Seddon either side of half time secured a 2–0 win. Next up: Estoril AC with sights set on nine points in the group stages. A strong performance under pressure saw them achieve exactly that, and a 2–0 win put TCFC Under-9s into the Playoff A quarter finals.
There was more excitement too for the Turf City FC players, coaches and supporters on day three as the Under-11s bagged another six goals in a 6–2 win over URD Tires. That took their points total to ten with just one game left in the group stages.
Following a day off from competitive matches on the Thursday, the TCFC U13s returned to the pitch on Friday for their final group match against Lusitano FC. The outcome was relatively simple: the winner progresses to Playoff A, the loser heads for Playoff B. The action was understandably nervous and unfortunately for Turf City, a Lusitano goal just after halftime proved too much to come back from. A 1–0 loss meant TCFC would play their final matches in Playoff B.
It was heartbreak too for the Under-11s who had looked so dominant in the early stages. A tight encounter with CF Os Belenenses went the way of the local side as a late strike saw Turf City fall to their first loss of the tournament. The defeat was enough to put TCFC third in the group though, which meant they would go to the Playoff B quarter finals for Saturday.
Sadly for the Turf City Under-9s, Friday really wasn’t favourable for the Singaporeans. Drawn against a side in Continental FC who won the Ibercup Dallas tournament earlier in the year, they too suffered defeat. Despite a performance every single player can be proud of, the U9s left the knockout stages on the back of a 2–0 loss. That Continental FC would go on to lift the trophy was no surprise at all to the impressed TCFC coaches.
Playoff A Quarter Finalists
Playoff B Winners
Playoff B Runners-Up
With the Under-9s’ tournament now finished, all attention fell on the 11s and 13s for Saturday’s action. All going well three matches awaited both teams in their Playoff B brackets, and players were eager to get their knockout campaigns started.
First up were the Under-13s who faced Estoril AC in their quarter final. A dominant display set a good tone for the day, with goals from Asis Muhammad, Pierre Alexandre Tepe and Christian Wodtke (2) seeing the boys through to a comfortable 4–0 win.
‘Beat that!’ they seemed to say to the Under-11s, who promptly went out and put five goals past ARDC Gondim Maia. Just like that the focus was back on the 13s who lined up against French club La Isle.
It felt like déjà vu as one, two, three and four strikes found the back of the net for Turf City to secure another 4–0 victory. The finals beckoned for the Under-13s; it was now up to the Under-11s to match them.
It was a considerably tighter affair for the younger team, and while they matched the 13s’ goals scored, they had to overcome three goals from local team GD Estoril Praia. It was a tense game then, but as the whistle blew at 4–3, it signalled that Turf City had two teams booked into the Playoff B finals.
‘Beat that!’ they seemed to say to the Under-11s, who promptly went out and put five goals past ARDC Gondim Maia!
The Under-11s would play first, facing Benfica EF Estádio at the St Julians pitch. Like Turf City, Benfica had qualified third in their group before putting 6 goals past each of their opponents at the quarter and semi final stages. They would have no such luck in the final though as Turf City dominated to take the match – and with it the Playoff B winners title – with a 2–0 victory.
Between the U13s and the title was an Italian team in Azzurri that had yet to concede in the knockout stages.
Eager to match the Under-11s’ success, the Under-13s took to the Carcavelos pitch with fire in their eyes later on Saturday evening. Between them and the Playoff B title was an Italian team in Azzurri that, like TCFC, had yet to concede in the knockout stages. And though neither team would keep their clean sheet in the final, it was Azzurri who came out on top, deservedly taking the match 2–1. It was disappointment for the Under-13s but they could hold their heads up high after some fantastic performances throughout the tournament.
So concluded Turf City FC’s trip to the Ibercup Estoril 2017. There were highs, there were lows; there were goals, there were misses; there was delight, and there was tears, but the ultimate takeaway is that every single one of the Turf City players will return to Singapore a more complete, experienced and stronger player.
Congratulations to all the Under-9s, 11s and 13s; thank you to the parents for their ever-present support; and lastly, thank you to the coaches for their tireless work over the last year preparing the teams for the success they undoubtedly achieved.