Youngsters Disappointed

West Ham United Youth Academy Director Tony Carr says West Ham will improve on their performance next year if they are invited back to the Phillips Lighting seven-a-side tournament in Hong Kong.

The Hammers finished third out of four in their group - at their first attempt at winning it - but there were mitigating circumstances, not least of which was the difficulty in acclimatising to the heat and humidity.

So much so, that Tony thinks it will have a huge effect on how the England players perform in that part of the world when the World Cup begins at the end of this week.

"We arrived on Wednesday," says Tony, "and were still feeling the effects on Saturday.

"I was sweating buckets just standing on the sidelines and the players were losing seven or eight pounds after just an hour of training.

"It was quite a culture shock, and we came out with a little apprehension, but if we are invited to return I would be delighted - and we would be better prepared.

"The hosts were marvellous, I couldn't praise them highly enough, and it was a fantastic experience which we are all the better for - it was an eye opener.

"It was a real culture shock and the boys were always looking for the nearest McDonalds!"

As well as the conditions, Tony's team of under-19s came up against senior men's teams from Hong Kong in three of their four games.

"They were physically stronger and, of course, used to the climate," he says, "so that made it tougher, but that said, there are no excuses because we were a little bit disappointing."

Tony feels that games against English teams would have helped the Hammers' cause as they were also under-19 sides and less used to the conditions.

The first match was against a Hong Kong select XI, and a 3-0 victory was secured by goals from James Allen, Billy Mehmet, and Phil Lumsden.

The latter two scored the goals in a 2-2 draw against Happy Valley, where victory was taken away by a late goal from the opposition after a goalkeeping error.

With the Hammers needing only to draw the final game in order to progress to the quarter finals, again, a goalkeeper's mistake late on led to a late goal which gave Buler Rangers a 3-2 victory.

James Allen and Billy Mehmet again got on the score sheet, but their goals were not enough to set up a match with Shanghai.

As it was, West Ham then entered the Plate competition, but lost 1-0 to Hong Kong FC, the hosts of the competition.

"Our goalkeeper Glenn Jackson was a bit down afterwards because he made a couple of basic mistakes," says Tony, "and in the 3-2 defeat it was a case of a harmless cross-shot that he saw late when we were playing to shut them out - but hopefully he will have learnt from that and be stronger for it.

"We were sailing with just a couple of minutes to go, but then we blew out."

Aston Villa ran out champions on penalties, beating holders Arsenal.

PSV Eindhoven and Rangers were the other teams in the competition, whereby games of 14 minutes' duration were played on a full size pitch over two days.

While in Hong Kong, the party took in Christian Dailly's performance as Scotland captain when they beat a Hong Kong select side.

"We congratulated him on his performance afterwards," says Tony, "as he played well, making one and scoring one."

Tony also bumped into former West Ham players Paul Allen and Jimmy Quinn, who were playing in a veterans' tournament at the time.