The Republic of Ireland under-15 side began their season with an impressive 3-0 win over Italian giants Juventus in a friendly game at the Aspire Academy in Qatar today.
A double from Malahide United’s Zachary Elbouzedi and a first-half goal from Jean Yves Poame gave the Irish youngsters a memorable victory.
Ireland opened the match well and dominated the early possession, with Brandon Payne having a shot comfortably saved by the Juventus goalkeeper in the sixth minute.
Steven Kinsella then went close two minutes later after he broke through the Juve defence only to see his shot blocked by the goalkeeper's feet at close range.
Ireland's possession finally paid off in the 19th minute when Jean Yves Poame pounced on Zachary Elbouzedi’s pull-back to slot home at the back post following good work by Elbouzedi to get in behind the Juventus defence.
Ireland created several other opportunities in the first half, however it was Juventus that had the closest opportunity right on half time when their right winger got in behind the Irish defence only to see his superb shot tipped excellently tipped over the crossbar by Corey Chambers in the Irish goal.
Upon the restart Ireland doubled their lead in the 42nd minute when Elbouzedi tapped in Kinsella's superb pull-back at the back post after good work down the right from Kinsella.
Two minutes later Ireland effectively sealed the victory when Kinsella and Elbouzedi once more combined – Elbouzedi again slotted home Kinsella’s low cross following a well-worked Irish throw-in in the right hand corner of the pitch.
Both teams exchanged several opportunities in the remainder of the second half, but Ireland were comfortable in holding on to their lead and were unfortunate not to add to it.
Ireland coach Niall Harrison was particularly pleased with the performance that went along with a result to be proud of.
"The victory was very pleasing of course but I was even happier with how we played. We played the game as we want it to be played with good build-up play," said Harrison.
"It was excellent to keep a clean sheet as it us up for the win but I was extremely happy with the football we played.
"Juventus were a lot bigger and taller than us and were a very physical side. We had the better ball players and produced some excellent play."
The Italian side were stung by the manner of their defeat but we complimentary to the Irish coaching staff at the quality of the football produced by the young Irish side.
"Afterwards their coaching staff came over to us and said how impressed they were with the quality our lads produced," said Harrison.
"To be honest some of their play was overly aggressive but I was very pleased with our lads coped with that. I suppose it's all part of the learning curve.
"Our next game against Aspire will be a different game. They're a more technical side and play quick possession football so it’ll be another good test for our guys."
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Corey Chambers; Gareth Doherty, Sean Whelan, Conor Masterson, Robbie McCourt, Brandon Payne (C), Steven Kinsella, Jesse Stafford Lacey, Conor Davis, Jean Yves Poame, Zachary Elbouzedi.
Subs: Avis Ganiyu for Kinsella 46; Conor Levingston for Stafford Lacey 49; Mark Buckley for Davis 49; Daniel Mandroiu for Poame 53; Stephen Nolan for Doherty 58 mins; Jake Doyle Hayes for Brandon Payne 58; Ross Treacy for Chambers 66.