The lessons learned – from Boca Juniors’ nightmare 48-hour journey from Buenos Aires to the Celtic players wilting in the Saturday afternoon sun – stand future competitions in good stead.’From our point of view anything that could go wrong went wrong and we had to sort it,’ said Sowney.
‘We’ve certainly learned how to cope when things go wrong and the clubs were pleased to see we had the ability to adapt to the situations.
It’s definitely been a learning curve.’We must thank the public, honorary police and stewards for their understanding of the change of games.
Everyone did their bit because they wanted to see the football.’Boca’s late arrival meant their game against Benfica was postponed 24 hours while the kick-off time of Celtic’s match against Benfica on Saturday afternoon was switched from 2 pm to 4 pm.However, the searing heat on Saturday – at 36?C the hottest day ever recorded in Jersey – still took its toll on the Glasgow youngsters as the match itself threw up a major talking point for the organisers and teams – the officials.FA-appointed Lee Mason, in particular, as fourth official on the day started getting annoyed with the players constantly demanding water and reported Celtic for using six substitutes – one more than the permitted five.Behind the scenes, where Mr Mason could not see, a Celtic player passed out from heat exhaustion at half time while others were visibly shaking.’There’s rules and regulations in all walks of life and sometimes people have to use common sense.
I don’t think there was an awful lot of that at this game,’ said Sowney.
‘All the officials we’ve had in the past – including Howard Webb, now the youngest referee in the Premiership – entered into the spirit of it and understood what football is about,’ said Mackenzie.He added that he was impressed with the attitude of the respective Celtic and Boca coaches on Sunday when they agreed that they were both prepared to ignore any previous yellow cards that might render a player suspended under tournament rules so that both teams could field there strongest sides.’There was fairness from all the clubs throughout the tournament,’ said Mackenzie.
‘Football was definitely the winner.’Obviously the tournament had its fair share of incidents, but from a football point of view it was, without doubt, a resounding success.
The Argentinians brought a whole new dimension to the tournament while Celtic and Manchester United provided a truly entertaining spectacle in front of around 2,000 fans on Friday night.
Benfica’s approach play was at times mesmerising with livewire Joâo Pereira being called back by the Lisbon Eagles to prepare for last night’s Champions League qualifier against Lazio.’The technical ability and skill level was amazing,’ said Mackenzie.
‘The thing that stood out for me was these guys are professionals and all that mattered to them was the football.’Boca were the team that looked the hungriest.
They wouldn’t travel 9,000 miles here to make up the numbers.
The noise and passion they displayed was something else – they would shoot their own grannies to win.
They were a smashing crowd of people, I’ve got to say.’This was epitomised after Boca’s heated game against Manchester United on Saturday night when Red Devils boss Brian McClair could be forgiven for fearing a confrontation as several of his players came face to face with Boca players at a lift door.
His fears were quickly erased though, as the Boca players smiled, picked up the United kit bags and carried them into the lift for them.
There was no animosity there.’The teams love it here in Jersey and they all want to come back,’ said Mackenzie.
‘After the first game Boca wanted us to promise we’d invite them back next year.All the teams want to come back.
We haven’t had a team that hasn’t wanted to come back.’I think the new format of four teams worked well.
From the clubs’ point of view they enjoyed it because they got three quality games.’