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International Academy win the Marbella Cup after a successful week in Spain

10 July 2023

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Fleetwood Town’s International Football Academy have had a brilliant week abroad as they managed to win the Marbella Cup out in Spain!

The group flew out on Monday in the early hours to the event, which was organised by partner organisation Sports Group International (SGI), and were immediately thrown into the action, with a game against Dorking FC coming up first.

This was the first of two group stage fixtures for the International Academy, and it was a walkover to start with as they beat the Southern side 6-2 before moving on to a well-balanced clash against Sutton United to round out the initial stage of the tournament.

The League Two posed more of a threat than the first opposition as they found the lead 60 seconds into the game, leaving all to do for the Cods, but a goal just before the break levelled the scoring and forward Reed Sturza thumped home the winner in the second half to secure a spot in the semi-finals.

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In the next stage of the cup, it was Pass & Move Academy who stood in the way of a spot in the final and it was a game of two halves in every sense of the term, with FTIFA showcasing their talents more in the second half of the fixture rather than the first.

After some stern words from the coaching staff on Fleetwood's side of things, the goals started to come, with Liam Blanco breaking the deadlock in the second half. A brace from top goal scorer Sturza followed with the final goal coming from new signing Luigi Rubiano – the final was up next.

Then, it was just Oxford City Academy standing in the way of FTIFA and the silverware, and they had reached the final unbeaten, much like the Fleetwood squad, but Michael O'Neill’s side were more determined than ever to right the performance from the semi-final.

It wasn’t long until Sturza found the back of the net once again, meaning the forward had scored in every stage of the tournament from start to finish. Goalkeeper Andrew Reimas was called into action a few times but defended his goal well to keep the lead in the clash.

The stern defending pushed the Cods forwards, and a second goal soon came ahead of the half-time break as a great attacking run down the right wing resulted in a perfect cross to striker Sturza, which was dispatched into the bottom corner.

20230710 - FTIFA Marbella Cup 3.jpg

One final goal came in the second half from Sturza, completing his hat-trick in the clash, meaning FTIFA would come back home from Marbella with the cup in hand and morale on an all-time high.

Michael O'Neill, FTIFA Head Coach, said: "The boys have been magnificent throughout the week; there have been a couple of moments when we haven't played to our standard and when it's been addressed by us, they have responded positively, and it's shown in the results.

“We came here to win the competition and the squad loved the competitive nature of the week. Doing the right things off the pitch in preparation to perform on it has seen the rewards. Very proud of all the group - fully deserved the success!"

Michael Horsfall, FTIFA UK Academy Manager, added: "We talked as a group, and we set out the aims and objectives for the week; we came to win, and we have done that.

“What's most impressed us as a staff is the way in which all the boys have behaved, prepared, and represented Fleetwood Town FC. It's a big responsibility to be part of our club and we couldn't be prouder of the impression these guys have left on everyone who has been around them for the week."

Congratulations to everyone involved!

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