In conditions more suited to a day at the beach, the Jets took the field in Weifang to tackle the might of South American powerhouse, Boca Juniors.
Boca are widely regarded as one of the world’s strongest nurseries for junior football, with their academy hand picking the best talent from all of South America.
Labi Haliti made a few changes to the starting line-up knowing it was important to keep players as fresh as possible in the oppressive conditions having played a game the day before.
Riley Smith was bought in at striker with Tom Curran and Kaleb Cox taking up positions in the middle as Kent Harrison, Cai Tipaldo and Jack Simmons started on the bench.
Goalkeeper, Tristian Esquilant was kept on his toes early, pulling off a brilliant save to deny Boca in the 15th minute and shortly after Ryan Goodhew’s desperate goal line clearance stopped a certain Boca goal.
Boca broke the deadlock in the 19th minute with a thunderous strike into the top left corner, leaving Esquilant with no chance of keeping it out.
It was a tough opening 45 minutes for the Jets, as they absorbed mountains of pressure defensively which was beginning to take its toll.
At halftime the Jets were forced into changes, with skipper Kieran Hayes succumbing to heatstroke while Kaleb Cox was also unable to continue in the extreme conditions.
Harrison, Simmons, Tipaldo and Josh Cairelli all came on to start the second half.
Cairelli, Harrison and Simmons were combining well up front, with Tipaldo using his size to advantage, giving the Boca defense some headaches.
Another probing run from Simmons created a chance for Harrison who accepted a lovely pass before shooting across the keeper to level the scores.
However, Boca took less than five minutes to regain the lead after getting some luck in a goalmouth scramble. Esquilant diving on a loose ball only to have it kicked out of his hands, with the ball trickling over the line.
In the end, the Jets would go down 2-1 but would be heartened by the effort and application in the second stanza.
Head Coach, Labi Haliti was more than proud of his boys after the game.
“It was a tough game. Obviously having two games in two days makes it difficult, but we showed in the second half that if we concentrate and stick to the basics we can match it with anyone,” Haliti said.
‘I think it was a good performance but a disappointing result.”
There were a few boys who looked worse for wear after the game with the extreme heat taking its toll, none more so than skipper Hayes.
“Kieran is good at the moment, he has been with the physio and been checked by the doctor and he’s recovering - we’ll have to see how he pulls up tomorrow.”