PETER LOVENKRANDS is a ‘proud’ man tonight after a superb first-day showing from his Rangers under-19 side at the Mercedes-Benz Junior Cup.
Played as a six-a-side tournament, Gers were drawn in a tough group alongside Bayern Munich, Hertha Berlin and Rapid Vienna.
After a 1-1 draw with Bayern and 3-3 tie with Hertha, an outstanding show from Gers saw them beat Rapid 1-0, with the Austrians having earlier demolished Bayern 4-0 and Hertha 3-0.
Speaking at the end of the three matches, a delighted Lovenkrands told RangersTV: “I’m proud of the boys as this is not easy. These teams we are playing against have been playing this type of football from when they were young boys, so for our boys to come here and try to get used to this, I think they have settled in really well.
“I thought it might have taken them a few games to do that, but they have been right at it. They were a bit unlucky in the first game as with 15 seconds to go we lost a goal, and had we not, we would have been top of the group.
“But overall, with the performances of the boys and how hard they have worked, I am really, really proud of their first day.
They have come over here and trained once for half an hour the day before the tournament, but the boys have shown good character and really stood up to the challenge.
“There have been some fantastic individual performances and team performances there as well, so I am really proud of them and they have done really well.”
The performance in the Rapid game is evidence Gers are adapting to the unique format, and he reckons his side could be sitting on even more than the five points they have gained so far.
The Dane continued: “You would think maybe going into the games Bayern Munich were going to be the favourites, but we ended up only losing a goal with 15 seconds to go, and ending up with a draw was a bit of a kick in the teeth.
“So they picked themselves up, were 2-0 up against Hertha, and ended up drawing 3-3, so you looked at the Rapid game as a difficult one against a team who hadn’t been scored against, and we went and scored against them and kept a clean sheet against a team who had scored seven goals in their first two games.
“That proved the boys are getting more used to it as it has gone on, and we fully deserved it in the last game.
“I thought the boys were excellent. It has been great and I think the boys are tired but we will refresh them and be ready for tomorrow.”
Lovenkrands too has been mightily impressed with the technical ability shown by his players, adding: “There are some fantastic players in the other teams as well, but I think our boys have shown they can stand up with the best of them.
“They have shown some great quality and we have stood up to it physically as well as the games are quite physical, but our boys and especially our leading boys like Lewis Mayo, who is big and strong, especially in the last game was tremendous and set the tone for the game.
“The rest of the boys then see that and go and do the same thing. It goes all the way through the game that the boys work hard for each other and stand up to the test.”