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345 FC competes in world’s largest youth football tournament

Sports 03 Aug, 2023 Follow News

345 FC players represented the Cayman Islands during the Gothia Cup opening ceremony at the historic Gamla Ullevi stadium, in Gothenburg, Sweden.

A boys under-14 team from 345 FC recently competed in the prestigious Gothia Cup, in Gothenburg, Sweden, the largest youth football tournament in the world. This year’s tournament featured teams from more than 140 nations playing at a very high level. 

345 FC advanced to the tournament’s round of 32 after finishing second in its group. In the knockout round, 345 FC fell in a penalty shootout to Norwegian side Tune IL.

“The aim of the trip was to provide the players an opportunity to assess their skill levels against youth players from around the world to help enhance their learning and to give the children a chance to experience playing against teams that provided appropriate challenge,” said 345 FC coach Peter Reijn.

The tournament opened with 345 FC players representing Cayman during the opening ceremony at the historic Gamla Ullevi stadium. The players carried the Cayman Islands flag around the stadium in front of 50,000 cheering spectators.

345 FC’s first game was against a local Swedish side, Alingsas IF. The fairly contested game finished with a 0-0 draw. In the second group game, the Cayman side again drew 0-0 against another Swedish team, Backatorp IF. 345 FC  dominated the game, pressed with high intensity to deny Backatorp space and time to play, and created some goal scoring chances that were just missed.

In the final group game, 345 FC came up against Techfit Soccer, from the US. 345 FC quickly raced to a 3-0 lead in the first half thanks to two goals from Luke Higgo and one from Chaz Ruddick. The goals were created with fantastic individual dribbles and excellent passes. Techfit made it 3-1 before the half, but Higgo completed his hat trick and Jagger Alban added two more goals to finish the scoring and the Cayman team won the match 6-1. This gave the team a second-place finish in its group, setting up a round of 32 match against Norwegian side Tune IL.

345 FC fell behind 1-0 in that match and was pressing well as a team but didn’t create many chances in the first half. After halftime, 345 FC dominated possession in the second half and Brooks Anderson saved a penalty to keep 345 within striking distance before 345 earned a penalty of its own and Jagger Alban converted to level the match at 1-1. Fulltime quickly followed, which led to a penalty shootout where Tune IL clinched the win.

“Our club continues to compete at a high level on the global stage. Over the past few years alone, our boys and girls youth teams at various age groups have proven with proper training and commitment, Cayman players can play with and beat anyone in the world,” Reijn said. “All of the players delivered at the tournament and we want to particularly recognize Quinn Small, Ethan Cansell and Jagger Alban, who helped lead the team in this tournament.”

Outside of the U14 boys, two girls players from 345 FC also played in the tournament. Harper Nelson and Siena Kelly played with FC New England, a US-based select team, helping the team beat top teams from Sweden, like Lillestrom SK and Gothenburg SK.

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