The IDF U12 team got their first taste of international competition when they defeated Champagnet/ Club Andorra of Peru in the final of the International Division of the AC Sandhills Summer Starter Tournament in Southern Pines, NC during Mother’s Day weekend, 2017.  In a hard fought final with both teams playing an attractive yet different style of football , IDF prevailed 3-1 to hoist their 4th trophy in 6 tournaments in the 2016/17 season.

IDF U12s as champions of AC Sandhills Inaugural International Tournament. Photo courtesy of K. Marrisett

The tournament started on Saturday against a team well known to a lot of players, Triangle Futbol Club CAM Navy. The first half was a tight affair with most of the game played in midfield and very few shots on goal. The second half started scoreless but IDF was given a chance to take the lead through a penalty but Shanjan failed to convert when the TFC goalkeeper guessed the right way and made a save low and to his right. TFC took the lead soon thereafter with a low shot that keeper Jack didn’t see until the last minute due to a mass of bodies in front of him. Despite going down a goal, IDF kept their composure and continued to press and they got their just rewards from a set piece. Wendell took a free kick near the touch line and Shanjan converted from the top of the box with a well-taken first time side-footer.  With about 5 minutes to go in the game, Wendell provided another assist when his cross was met by Nayrobi’s right foot which curled inside the right post.  The afternoon game against the host team, ACS Orange, started off a little tense with IDF failing to capitalize on its opportunities but Kevin broke the deadlock with a smart run along the left flank followed by neat finish over the goalkeeper’s outstretched hands. The team did not look back after that and cruised to a 8-1 victory.

Sunday morning final group pitted the squad against a team from Mint Hill, NC. The start was almost a carbon copy of the previous day’s second game where the team had a hard time finding the net and it took another individual effort from Kevin to break open the game. Despite letting in a goal through a defensive lapse, IDF was never in danger and put together some attractive football in the second half to come away with a 10-1 win and book their ticket to the final later that afternoon.

The Champagnet/ Club Andorra of Peru were waiting for the IDF team in the final after also being undefeated in group play.  This team exhibited players with a lot of individual talent but it was IDF who struck first through a fortuitous ricochet in the box which ended up in the back of the net from the boot of a Peruvian player.  However, within a few minutes they equalized where some of that individual talent was on display with a run down the left wing. IDF’s go-ahead goal resulted from some brilliance from Nayrobi, who stole a back-pass in midfield and dribbled past a few defenders and then fired off a shot which the Peruvian keeper found too hot to handle.

IDF U12 celebrates after Nayrobi’s goal from a brilliant individual effort in the finals. Photo courtesy K. Marrisett

The rest of the game was a tight affair with the IDF defense steadfast in keeping the international visitors at bay. They got some well-needed breathing room when in typical IDF fashion, they played the ball from the back and Nayrobi laid the ball off for Cian to take a clean strike to the back of the net. The team saw the rest of the game off with some stout defending and ended up victorious by a 3-1 margin and another trophy in their case.

Max battle for possession in AC Sandhills Tournament finals. Photo courtesy of K. Marrisett

In recapping the weekend, Head Coach Andre Fortune said “this tournament provided a good environment for our boys, as we prepare for their first international trip to Spain.  Being able to dominate possession, deal with the cultural difference and win against competition from a footballing nation such a Peru will go a long way in the soccer education of these young men”.