APOEL FC lost 3-0 at FC Barcelona on their UEFA Youth League debut, but coach Stavros Georgiou said: "Just the fact that we are here is great for the kids."
Article top media content
APOEL FC were 2-0 down within three minutes of kicking off their first UEFA Youth League game, but coach Stavros Georgiou knows lessons learned are more important than scorelines.
FC Barcelona scored twice early on, and had a third on 18 minutes, but Georgiou gave his side credit for their defensive resilience therafter. "[In the] second half we were very good and we tried to create some attacking opportunities and had chances to score," he told UEFA.com. "OK, the goal didn't come, but I think it was very good experience for our kids because it's the first time we've played in the UEFA Youth League."
The competition was introduced so clubs could give their young players experience of European football early in their careers, and while that often involves harsh lessons, Georgiou knows how much his APOEL team have to gain. "Just the fact that we are here is great for the kids," he explained. "We hope our first team will be in the group [stages of the UEFA Champions League regularly] so that we can bring our kids into the Youth League every year."
For APOEL, facing a massive club like Barcelona – even at youth level – was always going to be an enormous challenge, but coming face to face with the best players of their generation can only be a help to his charges, as far as Georgiou is concerned.
"The kids are just taking lessons from these mistakes they made and we hope next time we can be better. Most important is the mentality that the big clubs and big teams have in the games in these competitions. If we fix the mentality, then all the other things follow from that."