Western Suburbs U15s qualify for Nike Cup NZ Finals
Western Suburbs U15s have successfully navigated their way through the Wellington Finals of the 2014 Manchester United Premier Cup, more commonly known as the Nike Cup. The tournament has been running since 1993, and grown to include 9,500 teams from all over the world competing to play in the finals at Manchester United’s Old Trafford.
Many of today’s household names played in the Nike Cup including Fernando Torres, Xavi, Cesc Fabergas, Iniesta, Jack Wilshire, Theo Walcott, Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi.
The Wellington Finals were played over two days, 6th/9th February, at Memorial Park in Petone. The round robin competition was open to all clubs and was contested by teams representing Karori, Lower Hutt, Miramar, Petone, Upper Hutt, and Wests.
The Nike Cup gave last year’s U14s JPL and Super Six winning team the chance to play together once again but also gave some of the talented players from the younger Western Suburbs grades the experience playing in a worldwide tournament. The team have played together for a number of years but were pleased to be able to give Sam Staunton, Matthew Garbett and Ethan Kearsley the opportunity to test themselves against older opposition.
Wests finished a sunny and hot Waitangi Day with three wins from three games and a healthy goal difference over main rivals Karori. Sam Staunton, one of Wests new season U13s, took full advantage of his chance to impress, coming on as second half substitute to complete a hat-trick against Miramar Rangers.
The second day of the tournament saw Wests continue to play their patient passing game for which they are well know, but windy and wet conditions were challenging. They overcame a stubborn Lower Hutt team 4-0 to set up a final game against long time close rivals Karori, needing a draw to progress. Not a team known to sit back for a draw though, they started the game quickly and harried Karori from the first whistle. From the kick-off the young forwards Sam Staunton and Elijah Just were unlucky not capitalise on a defensive slip. It took just a few minutes more for Wests to convert their early dominance into a lead through a sweet left foot strike from Josh Rogerson. Wests continued to dominate and finished the half 3-0 up. Against the wind in the second half Wests conceded a goal, their first in the tournament, from a Karori set piece. They quickly struck back to put the tie beyond Karori and finished deserved 5-1 winners.
Wests now progress to the NZ Finals in Auckland in early March where they compete against the winners of the Southern and Northern Region Finals. The winners then travel to Australian to compete for a place in Manchester.
With the skills on display during the tournament, the future at Wests is looking bright with many opportunities, such as the Nike Cup, to develop players and allow them to showcase their talent at the highest level.
See the Wests Jets warm-up video here
Nike Cup news here