Two Academy of Football defenders represent their countries at U19s level

Michael Forbes

Two young defenders from the Academy of Football were in international action on Wednesday afternoon, representing their countries at U19s level.

In competitive action was West Ham United U18s captain Michael Forbes, who played the full 90 minutes of Northern Ireland U19s 2-0 defeat to Denmark in UEFA U19 European Championship qualifying.

The first of three games in the next six days saw manager Gerard Lyttle’s team go up against the Danes in at Stovky in Frydek-Mistek, Czech Republic, but come unstuck in the second half after creating plenty of chances in the first.

Danish keeper Tobias Jakobsen made five impressive saves from Forbes’ side in the opening half-an-hour of the encounter, with striker Jakob Martinsen coming closest in the first half in hitting the woodwork.

In the second half, Ross McCausland hit the post early on for Northern Ireland, but Denmark turned up the pressure and that eventually told when midfielder Daniel Haarbo swept the ball into the net.

As they pressed for an equaliser, Northern Ireland conceded a penalty when Cameron Stewart committed a foul inside his own box, with Marinus Larsen finishing smartly to put Denmark into an unassailable position.

Northern Ireland will now need to recover smartly in time to face tournament hosts Czech Republic at 2pm on Saturday in Frydek-Mistek, ahead of taking on Kazakhstan next Tuesday (12 October) at the Bazaly Stadium in Ostrava.

The top two teams from Group 13 will advance to the Elite Round in the spring, where 28 teams will face off in groups of four for the right to join next summer’s hosts, Slovakia, at the 2022 UEFA European U19 Championship finals.

Preparing to kick off their own qualification campaign for that tournament were Jamal Baptiste and England U19s, with the Young Lions’ Euro U19 ‘qualifying’ round being played in November against Sweden, Switzerland and Andorra.

Wearing the No6 shirt, Baptiste played the full 90 minutes of the first of three friendlies scheduled for this month on Wednesday: a 3-1 loss to France U19s at the Marbella Football Center. 

Les Bleus raced into an early lead via Ismael Doukoure and held on until the break, only for Aston Villa's Aaron Ramsey to level things up for England midway through the second half.
Two quickfire late goals from France’s Elye Wahi, however, meant that an entertaining game ended in defeat for England, who next face Mexico, and then Belgium, in friendlies on Saturday and Tuesday.

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