Al Hilal clinch Hamdan U-17 title with victory over BVB

Photos by Chris Whiteoak

Al Hilal cemented their giant-killing status as they followed up their semi-final defeat of Real Madrid with a 2-0 triumph over Borussia Dortmund to be crowned champions of the Hamdan bin Mohammed 6th International Football Championship U-17 in Dubai Sunday night.

Two second-half strikes from Khalid Al Jubaya and Khalid Al Subaie were enough to secure a memorable victory in front of an ecstatic pro-Hilal crowd that included Saudi legend Sami Al Jaber.

Former Sevilla and Tottenham striker Frederic Kanoute was also in the stands for what proved to be a thrilling affair between two promising youth teams. Hilal tortured the German side with incredible pace throughout the 90 minutes and were deserved winners.

“Thanks to the club’s vision and the enormous amount of work they’ve put in - this is proof the right kind of work has started in the age-group teams at Al Hilal,” said Al Jaber, who spent 20 years playing for the Saudi club and coached them in the 2013-2014 season.

“We need to keep evolving. The Madrid and Dortmund players we just beat, perhaps they will become stars at major European clubs within a few years; our own players must truly believe that they too can become stars in Europe but that won’t happen without evolving our vision.

“In 1989, Saudi Arabia won the FIFA U-16 World Cup against Scotland in Scotland so thinking about dominating on the international scene is not a far-fetched dream. It’s about hard work and vision.”

Dortmund netted in the 11th minute through Georgis Pinditis’ long-range strike but it was deemed offside, before Hilal’s Ali Al Assaf hit the post. Dortmund’s Ozkan Terzioglu almost broke the deadlock before the break but ‘keeper Nawaf Al Ghamdi intervened.

A sensational long-range strike from tournament top-scorer Al Jubaya sent the crowd into frenzy early in the second half and Al Subaie doubled Hilal’s advantage on the hour with a header from a corner.

“I’m so happy because these players bring so much for me throughout the year, it was such a tough match, and they brought us everything we could possibly ask for,” said Hilal coach, Juan Ignacio Brown.

Dortmund had beaten Hilal 2-1 in the group stages but were unable to replicate that performance. Still, coach Christian Fluthmann was satisfied with their tournament.

“Hilal were faster and fresher and our team was very tired. We were too nervous and we showed too much respect to Hilal, so that was the key,” said Fluthmann. “But I’m very proud of our team because we ended up taking second place with an U-16 squad at an U-17 tournament. It’s a great result and I’m very proud of it.”

Earlier in the day, Real Madrid beat Internacional 3-1 in a penalty shootout to claim third place.

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