After a 2-2 draw in Switzerland, Accies aim to finish the job against Basel at the Hope Stadium on Wednesday night to advance to the next round of the UEFA Youth League.
Dougie Imrie's side swept to the under 17 league title undefeated last season to earn their place within the elite bracket of European youth football. It is the first time any Scottish club other than Celtic has competed in the competition.
It’s further testimony to a youth set up which regularly brings young players all the way through the system to senior first team football. A CIES (Centre International d’Etude du Sport) survey last year listed Accies as the only British club in the European top 100 clubs to feature home grown players in their starting line-up.
The likes of James McCarthy, James McArthur and Michael Devlin have moved on to big clubs over the years. With a chance to shine in midweek coach Brian Potter says the occasion can only raise the bar even further and inspire the next crop of players to follow suit.
“It’s been a great experience for us all,” he told Youth Football Scotland. “The drive to bring on young players here is well documented. We’ve proven over the years that if you’re good enough you stay in the team. We give young players that opportunity.”
“We start early here and try and keep them in the system. The core of our team on Wednesday will be the boys who went undefeated last season. There’s boys here who have been here for up to seven years and have the Hamilton ethic of working hard and being difficult to beat.”
“Reaching European competition gives everyone at all levels something to aim for, and can only help us attract more young players to become involved. It can only be good for the whole set up here, and improves us also as coaches.”
“We also made a good play of getting into Project Brave. It gives us access to more coaches and facilities, sports scientists, more access to video analysis. It has helped raise the bar even further. Ultimately it’s about giving the kids the best grounding that they can into full time football.”
Tickets on the night will be free to all as Accies hope for a big crowd to see Potter’s side over the line. Adam Douglas’s double in the first leg gives Accies more than a chance against top opposition.
“We drew a recognised team, and it was a great experience to go over there and prepare in a big stadium. It was a difficult game and we did well to get a result. Our aim was to keep the tie alive and it’s all to play for.” Potter says.
Kick off at the Hope CBD Stadium is at 7pm on Wednesday.