RANGERS Head of Academy Craig Mulholland is delighted that the Gers youth side has reached the Alkass International Cup Final today.
Speaking after Wednesday’s 5:1 win over last season’s defeated finalists, Japanese side Kashiwa Reysol, Mulholland said: “We’re absolutely delighted. I think that you come here with an expectation that you can do well, but to score sixteen goals in four games and find yourself in the final, we’re absolutely ecstatic.
“We realised that we had a group of twenty coming out [to the tournament] with sixteen of those internationals and we’ve probably never had that before in our academy.
“Some of the players are 2003’s and some are 2004’s, so we must be one of the youngest groups here at the tournament, so from that point of view it excites us for the future.
“At home we have an under-18 team and an under-16 team, we don’t actually have an under-17 team and the likes of Nathan Young-Coombes has only joined us in January, so this is his first time playing for Rangers.
“For it to all to come together as quickly as it has, we are delighted.”
Whilst the Gers romped to a victory over Reysol, AS Roma needed penalties to reach the final in their semi final game against Qatari side Aspire Academy. The Italian side were 2-0 up before Aspire managed to bring it back to 2-2 and force the penalty shoot out.
Speaking after the semi final against Kashiwa, Gers coach David McCallum spoke of his delight at the Light Blues securing their place in the final of the tournament: “Yes, it’s fantastic.
“I think that the performance from the players merits the opportunty to go and play in a final.
“They were very difficult opposition, Kashiwa play play in a certain way that makes them difficult to break down. However, I think our lads showed great patience, but importantly great quality when we got into the right areas.
“It means a lot to get to the final. In the weeks leading up to the final you hear a lot about it, obviously the way that the tournament is ran, it’s ran at a level that’s comparable to international football.
“I think that for us to go and do what we’ve done so far is great, I think that we have deserved it with the performances that we’ve had.
“We’ve not won it yet, we still have another game to go and it will be a tough game against AS Roma.”
The Gers started their tournament with a 3-0 win over Moroccan side Raja Club Athletic, before being beaten by Aspire, whilst playing a rotated squad. Next up was Etoile Sportive Du Sahel from Tunisia who were dispatched 7:0, before the win over Kashiwa.
AS Roma began their tournament with a 5-2 win over holders Paris St Germain, before beating Kashiwa 2-0 and then Spartak Moscow 3-0 on their route to the semi finals.