Hyundai A-League youth shines against Chinese heavyweights

Pre-season has started with a bang for Newcastle Jets and Sydney FC with both sides claiming wins over Chinese Super League opposition last night.

The two Hyundai A-League clubs are currently taking part in the Free Trade Port Super Champions Cup in Haikou, China over the weekend.

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And it was a great start for both the Jets and Sky Blues, who registered 2-0 and 1-0 victories over Shanghai Shenhua and Changchun Yatai respectively.

Newcastle youth product Jack Simmons played just 13 minutes of the side's Foxtel Y-League campaign in 2017/18 but the 16-year-old could well have forced himself into Ernie Merrick's designs for the upcoming season after netting a goal in his senior debut.

Simmons is one of several Jets' youngsters currently on tour after impressing Merrick during pre-season, and he may have endeared himself further to the Newcastle boss after sealing their 2-0 win with a superb left-footed strike in the dying minutes against Shanghai Shenhua.

Jason Hoffman had earlier opened the scoring in the first half for the Jets, who withstood a barrage of pressure as Shanghai summoned their heavy artillery in the second stanza. Shenhua were Sydney FC's Group H opponents in last seasons AFC Champions League campaign, and are currently seventh in the CSL.

“It’s a huge result for us,” Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna told the Newcastle Herald.

“At the end, we only had one player on the field who was over 23, that was keeper Glen Moss. The young boys really stepped up. Shanghai are one of the biggest clubs in China and are mid-season."

"We left a number of our senior players at home a d the ones who did play, have only been back in training two weeks.”

Earlier in the evening, Sydney FC were victorious in their clash against Changchun Yatai.

It was a similarly youthful starting eleven from the reigning premiers, with the likes of NPL NSW stars Sam Mcillhatton and Cameron Devlin featuring. 

Devlin, a former Western Sydney Wanderers youth team captain, proved to be the match winner, striking home in the seventh minute to ensure the Sky Blues kick off their new era under Steve Corica in winning fashion.

Opponents Changchun Yatai are currently 13th in the CSL, and have former Watford striker Odion Ighalo on their books.

Image credit: Sydney FC, Newcastle Jets