03 Jun 2024

The Aspire Academy football teams concluded their season with several tightly-fought games at home and overseas.

A squad of players travelled to Dalian, China, between 17 and 27 May to compete in the 28th edition of The International School Sport Federation’s (ISF) Football World Cup 2024.

While in Doha, the Academy hosted under-17 and under-15 teams from the Azerbaijani club Qarabag, as well as an under-13 squad from Saudi Arabian side Ettifaq.

Earlier in May, the Aspire feeder team also travelled to Turkey to participate in the Antalya Junior World Cup 2024.

ISF Football World Cup

The ISF, founded in 1972, is an international non-profit sports organisation that acts as the umbrella organisation and governing body for national school sports bodies worldwide.

Thirty-six teams from across Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, and South America participated in the ISF Football World Cup, with Aspire Academy representing Qatar at the tournament.

The Aspire team beat Chile and England, drew with Thailand, and lost to Turkey to finish as runners-up in their group. They then overcame Kenya and Germany before losing their final match to Ukraine to finish 10th overall at the event.

Juan Pablo Morales was the Aspire Academy Technical Coordinator for the trip to China. “The tournament was good for us as we faced some high-quality opponents,” he said.

“This type of tournament is important because we can see how players react to extreme high-performance situations, how they handle the demands, and what kinds of decisions they make in those moments.”

“We felt we were competitive until the last minute of the championship. This type of tournament highlights the importance of training in dynamic and high-intensity environments.”

“We continue to gain international experiences that are key in the learning and growth process of our players.”

Friendlies v Qarabag and Ettifaq

Meanwhile, at Aspire Academy, the under-13 squad beat Ettifaq 5-0 in their first friendly before losing the second one 3-1.

The under-17s earned two wins against Qarabag, while the under-15s played two closely fought games. The first ended in a 1-1 draw before Aspire won the second 2-1.

Qarabag Academy Director Nail Karimov was impressed with the facilities at Aspire and the standard of the football they faced.

“I would like to thank everyone at Aspire Academy, especially Saeed Al-Marri (Football Administration Director), for their warm welcome and hospitality during our stay,” he said.

“These friendly matches were very, very interesting and useful for us, and the facilities around us have been amazing.

“We’ve witnessed Aspire’s modern approach to football, especially technological, digital, digital development, which, in my opinion, is at the highest level.”

“The first plus for us was that the tempo (of the matches against Aspire) was very high. In our domestic league, we have only three or four high-tempo matches.

“It is this kind of match that really shows the pluses and minuses of our team and how individually they affect the playing styles of our players.”

“We liked Aspire's playing style. It is close to our playing style, and the performance of both teams was very high.”

Antalya Junior World Cup

The tournament hosted in Antalya attracted teams from Turkey and further afield and featured a variety of age groups from under 8 through to under 15, with Aspire Academy entering its feeder team in the under-12 event.

The youngsters aiming to earn full-time places at the Academy put on a good show as they won five of their six matches to finish third overall.

Aspire managed wins against Antalyaspor (twice), Read Madrid Federation, Arsus Karaagac SK and Fatih Karagumruk SK. Their only loss was to Turkish side Besiktas, who went on to win the under-12 category.

Aspire Academy’s footballers will now enjoy a short break. The next training camp for all age groups will be in Bulgaria in August. The players will also travel to Azerbaijan in August to continue training and play a series of friendly matches.

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