Cambrian relishing underdog status, says Badman
Lawrence Badman says his Cambrian and Clydach side have “nothing to lose” when they take on Swansea City in the FAW Youth Cup Final this weekend.
The Rhondda outfit face a stiff test at the Cardiff City Stadium, with the Swans having lifted the trophy for the last seven years.
Badman admits that few onlookers will be expecting his unfancied charges to break that streak, but says he has no problem in his team being labelled as underdogs.
“Personally I’m relishing it. We don’t really have much to lose. Swansea are expected to win, but these lads have always got a good game in them and if they perform like I know they can then they’ll make it difficult for Swansea and we’ll give it a good go.
“Preparations are going very well. The lads have been training hard and we’ve had a bit of time to go over the game plan. Everyone’s really excited and looking forward to the day.”
Cambrian’s march to Sunday’s showpiece has been hugely impressive, with the Welsh Premier League Division South Development champions sealing their place in the final with a 7-1 rout over Llandudno in the semi-final.
And Badman has no doubts that Swansea will show his side the respect they deserve.
“I expect Swansea to be very professional,” he added. “They’ve got some very, very good players and I think they’ll approach the game as if they were playing a top Premier League academy.
“I expect them to pick their strongest team and I’m sure they’ll play good football.”
The significance of what a shock win would mean for Cambrian and its academy is not lost on Badman, but he insists that player development remains the top long-term priority.
“From a club and academy point of view, a win would be massive.
“The club is always looking to bring in players in, and over the last eight or nine years they’ve brought through players from RCT and beyond.
“I think over the years it’s something like 50 players who have gone on to get trials at professional clubs, which fundamentally is the aim of the academy.”
Ironically, Swansea are one of the clubs Badman’s youngsters will hope to impress, although he believes there is little chance of his players getting distracted in the capital.
“If players can put themselves in the shop window and get scouted and looked at by Swansea or Cardiff or Newport, then it’s obviously a fantastic achievement for us.
“But our main aim is still to try and win the game.
“We have a good squad, and whoever starts will be good enough to start. It’s a very good unit with strong players in all positions.”
FIVE TO WATCH
Cameron Keetch – A Wales U18 international, Keetch struck a sublime hat-trick in the semi-final demolition of Llandudno. Has come through the ranks of the academy, netting the winner in the U16 Cup Final win over TNS in 2015. Could well be their main goal threat.
Sam Jones – About to end his eighth and final year at the academy, Jones has also been a big part of the march to the final, having scored four goals in the quarter-final win over Bangor City. Has already made a number of first team appearances, earning himself a reputation as a quick and skilful playmaker.
Elijah Chilekwa – Signed earlier in the season, this tricky winger has already impressed for the first team after arriving from Worcester City in January. Previously spent a spell a Bristol City’s academy and has also turned out for Wales at U17 and U19 level.
Joe Evans – A pacey and exciting defender boasting bags of strength and composure. His dominance in the air makes him a formidable foe for any striker. Has proved integral to a defence that has conceded just three goals on its way to the final.
David Thomas – Another player that has been given his chance with the first team, the skipper duly takes on the mantle as a classic box-to-box midfielder, often exhibiting a level of tenacity that goes well beyond his years.
Image credit: (Cambrian and Clydach)