Swifts U19s bat­tle best teams in NZ

Matamata Chronicle - - Out & About - DWAYNE BARLOW

Mata­mata Swifts have re­turned from the an­nual Labour Week­end Un­der-19 Youth Tour­na­ment in Napier won­der­ing what might have been.

With five group games against clubs from as far north as Auck­land and as far south as Wellington, the Swifts were fully aware of the chal­lenge in the coun­try’s largest an­nual club-based age group tour­na­ment.

The tour­na­ment is built in two parts. The main draw, in­volv­ing the top 24 teams, in­cludes some of the big­gest clubs. Mata­mata com­peted in the Satel­lite tour­na­ment, in­volv­ing 22 sides. The two Satel­lite fi­nal­ists claimed a place in next year’s main draw.

On day one the Swifts drew their first three group games, 1-1 against Port Hill United, from Napier, 2-2 against Franklin United (Pukekohe/Waiuku) and 1-1 against Pa­pakura City. This made their chances of pro­gress­ing from pool play dif­fi­cult. Frus­trat­ingly, Mata­mata led in all three games and coughed up goals they’d nor­mally not con­cede.

Wear­ing the tag of draw spe­cial­ists head­ing into day two, the team needed to find a way to win their two re­main­ing games. Their next op­po­nent, One­hunga Sports, was a beast of a team. The Swifts bat­tled to a cred­itable 2-0 de­feat against the side that would end up win­ning the Satel­lite tour­na­ment. The fi­nal match was lost 2-1 to Wainuiomata.

Mata­mata Swifts’ Luis John fires off a shot against Napier club, Port Hill United.

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