The groups for the maiden CONIFA European Football Cup 2015 taking place in Budapest, Hungary are drawn. FC Liverpool Legend Robbie Fowler and CONIFA European Director Alberto Rischio were chose to draw the teams into the 4 groups of 3. The full draw can be seen as it happened on the Isle of Man here: Manx TV
The whole drawing procedure was perfectly organized by the Manx International Football Alliance and the CONIFA vice-president Malcolm Blackburn. We want to thank both parties for creating a great memory for all CONIFA teams. We are absolutely delighted that Malcolm Blackburn and MIFA were able to win a legend like Robbie Fowler for this important draw and we want to thank Robbie Fowler for supporting us and acting as a CONIFA ambassador this way!
However Nagorno-Karabakh was seen by many as an unlucky underperformer of the 2014 CONIFA World Football Cup where the team met both later finalists in the group stage losing in close calls against boths. Franconia on the other hand looks like the dark horse in the group as they only ever had one friendly (4:2 vs Raetia).
While this group is surely dominated by the match of the current World Champion County of Nice against the current vice-champion Ellan Vannin it also features a very interesting new team, namely the Romani People national team. County of Nice and Ellan Vannin met each other twice during the World Football Cup 2014 in Sweden with Ellan Vannin winning the group match and County of Nice winning the final on penalties and lifting the trophy. The Romani People team so far only played with a slightly different, more local, team a friendly tournament in Germany against other “immigrant teams” without much of a success.
The third group drawn together is most likely the closest call of all groups and was immediately seen as the “group of death” by the teams drawn into it. Classical powerhouse Northern Cyprus did miss the 2014 World Football Cup and will make their comeback to football outside FIFA after a pause of 3 years, which makes them hardly predictable. Abkhazia and South Ossetia on the other hand both played the CONIFA World Football Cup and met each other in the quarter finals where South Ossetia knocked out Abkhazia in a penalty shootout. This is just one of many signs that this might be the toughest group in the tournament.
The currently best ranked European team within CONIFA, Occitania, which improved enormously over the last 3 years, will play against neighboring Monaco and the host team from Szekely Land. As the Szekely team consist of many FIFA Futsal World Cup experienced players they are expected to be technically very strong. Monaco is the only fully recognized nation participating in the European Football, but do only have a very few footballers to pick from.