(Thursday 21st February 2002)
Ian Simpemba Wanderers' First Year Pro Ian Simpemba scored for Ireland Under 19's in the second of a double-header friendly with Portugal in Lisbon on Thursday (21st February). It was Simpemba's first start for the Irish at Under 19 level and capped an impressive performance by the former Wanderers' Centre of Excellence player.
Simpemba didn't figure in the first game on Tuesday (19th February) which had followed an eventful journey from Dublin. The Irish squad had flown from Dublin Airport on the previous Sunday but did not touch down in Lisbon until midnight following a seven-hour delay in Frankfurt. The team went onto play the first game without a proper training session but still put in a fine performance to draw 0-0 in hot and very sunny conditions. Their best chance fell to Stockport's Jonathan Daly but it was Daly's absence from the second game that gave Simpemba his chance.
The second game saw the home side take the lead six minutes after the break but Simpemba glanced home a header in the 70th minute from Newcastle United's Stephen Brennan's cross to level the scores. However, the Irish youngsters conceeded a late goal to go down 2-1 but Irish coach Brian Kerr was still pleased, saying "This was another fine performance by the team and it was another good opportunity to see them play against talented opposition ahead of our UEFA qualifier with Holland."
Simpemba will now be hoping to be selected for the squad to face Holland in the first leg of their play-off in Rotterdam on March 20 with the return in Cork on April 10. The winners will qualify for the UEFA Under-19 finals in Norway in July.

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