The Australian invitational squad enjoyed watching Mark Schwarzer in action for English side Fullham.
The Australian invitational squad enjoyed watching Mark Schwarzer in action for English side Fullham.

Manthey, Coyne tour with squad

SOCCER coach Jeff Manthey is back behind the counter of the Gympie Memorial Swimming Pool after a whirlwind trip to Europe with an Australian Under 16 invitational squad.

The squad touched back down in Australia a fortnight ago after spending two weeks overseas.

Manthey was coach of the girls Under 16 side, featuring Gympie’s own Annika Coyne as the sole representative from the Wide Bay region.

The players in the invitational squad were hand-picked from the nation’s best talent and Coyne’s remarkable talent didn’t escape the attention of selectors.

Coyne is yet to return to Australia, instead staying over in Europe with her mother on an extended holiday.

Manthey said the experience was mind-blowing.

“It was a very busy two weeks with a lot of travel but what an experience,” he said.

The tour kicked off with a stopover in Brunei, where the Australian invitational squad played a trial game against the host nation.

Clinching victory 14-1, the Australian girls could not have wished for a better start to their campaign.

“They were physical and extremely fast on the field to have such a big win,” Manthey said.

From Brunei, the squad pushed on to the Bolton Football Academy in England for a coaching clinic.

The Australian girls relished the opportunity to showcase their skills in front of the world’s finest coaches.

At the conclusion of the clinic, the squad boarded a bus and headed to Scotland for two trial matches – one against the Glasgow Rangers and the other against Hibernian.

Manthey was pleased with the results, producing a 3-1 victory over Hibernian and a 2-0 loss to the Glasgow Rangers.

Glasgow Rangers boasted the country’s best Under 17 players, and two of the outfit’s players were part of the Under 19 Scottish team.

“The Rangers were extremely fit and fast,” Manthey said.

Backing up after this game, the Australian squad executed the thrilling 3-1 victory over Hibernian, who had earlier drawn with the Glasgow Rangers.

Returning to England, the Australian squad attended another training session at London’s Spurs Academy.

The training paid off for yet another trial match against the Under 17 Manchester City team, producing a 1-1 draw.

Australia had led 1-nil with 10 minutes remaining on the clock before a lapse in concentration allowed Manchester City to strike and level the encounter.

Meanwhile, the Australian squad enjoyed the chance to take to the stands and watch four league games – two in England and another two in Scotland.

A highlight was watching Australian keeper Mark Schwarzer in action for English Premier League side Fulham.

The pocket of Aussie support in the crowd caught Schwarzer’s eye.

“After the game he came over to us in the stands,” Manthey said.

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