Posted on April 09, 2018

Aspire Academy’s U-18s emerged victorious in the latest Tri-Series tournament after competing against teams from Etoile du Sahel from Tunisia and FC Nasaf from Uzbekistan.

The Aspire Academy Under-18’s began the tournament with an accomplished 2-0 win over visitors from Uzbekistan courtesy of goals from Abdalaziz Al Hasia (on 20 minutes) and Ahmed Haaga (on 60 minutes). When Etoile du Sahel and FC Nasaf drew 2-2 on the second day of the Tournament, it became clear that the team from Aspire Academy were in with a good chance of defeating the visitors from Tunisia, and with it a shot at winning the Tri-Series tournament.

Aspire Academy Under-18s 1 [].jpg

On Wednesday 4th April, the Academy Under-18 team – several of whom make up the national U-19s team due to compete in the Asian Confederation finals later in the year – engaged their North African counterparts in the final match of the tournament. The boys from Sousse in the Sahel region of Tunisia dominated the early exchanges and took a 2-nil lead in the first 30 minutes of the game. Thirteen minutes later however, Ahmed Haaga started the comeback with a well taken goal that gave hope to his team-mates from the Academy as they headed into the half-time break.

The momentum began to swing Aspire’s way during the second half, and in the 48th minute Nasser Al Yazidi equalized. Sensing victory the Aspire boys upped the ante and raided the Etoile du Sahel goal, looking to take the lead for the first time in the match. It wasn’t long before that happened when substitute Mohammed Bahrameni scored for the home side in the 50th minute. Etoile du Sahel were stunned, and before they were able to respond Aspire Academy struck again in the 52nd minute with Ahmed Alganehi netting their fourth goal.

Aspire Academy U-18 head coach Hedider Abderrazak was full of praise for his side. Commenting on the game, he said: “The boys showed immense character to come back from a two-goal deficit against a solid opponent. This was an interesting Tri-Series. Our game against FC Nasaf provided the kind of challenge we expect from opponents from Central Asia. And Etoile du Sahel gave us exposure to players from the Arab world that we can expect to face in the AFC U-19 finals in October. All in all, it was great preparation for us and I’m very pleased with how we kept battling and pulled ourselves back from defeat to ultimately win this Tri-Series tournament.”

Ravshan Nikimbaev, Assistant Head of Delegation from FC Nasaf praised the fantastic facilities at Aspire as well as the hospitality that the team received and the quality of the organisation of the tournament. He said: “We are delighted to have been invited to play in this Tri-Series tournament at Aspire – it has been a very good experience for us. We will draw many valuable lessons from our participation. It’s the first time that we’ve been here, and for our boys this is rich experience which can only serve to develop them further as players. Both Aspire Academy and Etoile du Sahel played good football and proved slightly more experienced than our side. Our boys put in a spirited performance however, and I’m very pleased with what we achieved during the tournament.”

Aspire Academy Under-18s 2 [].jpg

Etoile du Sahel won the Under-17’s and Under-15’s categories. Head Coach for the Under-15’s team Wael Belakhal said afterwards, “It has been a great experience for our players and staff to compete in the Tri-Series tournament. The benefits from participating and competing against strong teams are huge. I was most pleased that we recovered from 3-1 at half time to snatch a 3-3 draw and enable us to win the U-15s title. Qatar and Tunisia enjoy very good relationships across many sectors as evidenced by the fact that our senior national team is coached by coach Nabil Maaloul who held a successful training camp here at Aspire Academy in January this year.”

The next Tri-Series Tournament – the last one of the season – will take place from the 29th April to 3rd of May and will feature generation Under-16 and Under-14 National teams from Tunisia and Iran.