- West Ham United U15s lost on penalties in the final of the Slavia International Cup
- They drew 0-0 with Spanish side Malaga after normal time, but lost 3-2 after spot-kicks
- Danny Searle remained proud of his players after their terrific efforts
Head of U15-18 Coaching Danny Searle remained proud of his U15s after they missed out on winning the Slavia International Cup by the finest of margins.
The Hammers were the better side in the final – being played at the Eden Arena, home of Slavia Prague – but were eventually beaten 3-2 on penalties by Malaga after drawing 0-0 after normal time.
Kai Corbett had the Hammers’ best chance of the fixture, hitting the post just before half-time, and they restricted their Spanish opponents to very little in the way of chances on goal.
But after failing to find a breakthrough in the allocated 50 minutes, the lottery of a penalty shootout followed with Malaga prevailing.
“When you look at the semi-final, our class really shone through,” said Searle. “We hadn’t really hit the ground running at all on day one and two.
“But the boys, through their grit and determination, managed to keep themselves in the tournament. To get to the semi-final and to see them play with the style we know they can play with, I thought we did take that into the final against a very good Malaga side.
“We matched them all the way and probably edged it to be fair. To lose on penalties is just one of those things but I’m really proud of the boys.
The Hammers made it through to the event’s showcase match after battling to a deserved 2-1 victory over local side Sparta Prague in the morning.
We matched them all the way and probably edged it to be fair. To lose on penalties is just one of those things but I’m really proud of the boys.
They went behind early on but showed resilience to fight back and equalise just before half-time.
Amadou Diallo – who was named Player of the Tournament at the competition’s closing ceremony – let fly from 25 yards and found the bottom corner with a terrific curling strike.
There may have been an element of luck about the winner when Kamarai Swyer’s cross looped over the goalkeeper but the result was never in doubt after the Hammers’ dominance.
Then came the weekend’s climax and a meeting of the two best footballing sides in the competition.
It was a tense 50 minutes with both side’s having their share of pressure, but West Ham’s Corbett had the best chance of the match when he hit the post.
Penalties followed and Malaga eventually won 3-2, but Searle felt his side deserved more than the title of “runners-up”.
“We were the youngest team in the tournament so it was always going to be tough,” he added.
“We had teams from the Czech Republic, Spain and Austria so it was a good test for the boys. They showed great resilience through the tournament and we got better and better as the tournament went on. In the end, it was disappointing because I think we deserved more.”