The semi-finals of the 2016 CONIFA World Football Cup were held on Saturday in Sukhum, while exciting two placement games took place in Gagra. Check out our full match wraps below.
Panjab 1 – 0 Padania, Sukhum
Panjab booked their ticket to the Final after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Padania in Sukhum.
A large crowd watched Panjab and Padania grind through a tense first half, with few chances for either side before the break. The second stanza started more positively for Padania, creating some decent opportunities immediately after the restart.
However, Panjab broke the deadlock following a strong move in the box which led to a shot off the bar and, in the ensuing scramble, Rio Riaz headed home the game’s only goal. Panjab then held strong for the remaining minutes to continue their unbeaten run. In a sour moment just before full-time, a Padania player received a second yellow card and was sent-off for acting aggressively towards an opponent.
“It was a tough game,” said Panjab FA President Harpreet Singh. “Padania are quality. Football is in their DNA. But for tomorrow, we are confident.”
The British-based team, who represent the Panjab region of India and Pakistan, have upset several more fancied opponents during the tournament. They will face Abkhazia in the Final on Sunday.
Abkhazia 2 – 0 Northern Cyprus, Sukhum
A tale of two semi-finals. While Panjab v Padania was a defensive affair, the evening match between hosts Abkhazia and Northern Cyprus was 90 minutes of flowing, attacking football.
The Cypriots began the game by showing the local fans their appreciation, gifting them with roses and footballs. The fans applauded gratefully, but once the whistle blew the fans’ love was for Abkhazia only. The match featured great skill from both sides, with mazy runs, dribbling trickery and an attempted overhead scissor kick. It was the home team, however, that would provide the finish.
A scramble in the box led to a first-half goal, while after the break Abkhazia’s second strike was all class. A perfectly weighted deep ball was followed up with a deft lob over the keeper.
The stadium was at capacity again, as it will surely be on Sunday night when the Abkhazians play for World Football Cup glory in front of their passionate home fans.
Kurdistan 1 – 1 United Koreans of Japan (won 2-4 on penalties), Gagra
The United Koreans of Japan avenged their quarter-final penalty heartbreak by beating tournament heavyweights Kurdistan to finish seventh overall, converting four spot-kicks to two in Gagra following a one-all draw.
In a spectacular finish to the seventh place playoff, Kurdistan looked to have sealed victory when the game entered injury time with the Kurds 1-0 up. But a quick free-kick in the 94th minute saw the United Koreans of Japan equalise, sending the game to a spot-kick finish. With both teams losing on penalties already in the tournament, the shoot-out was destined to be particularly tense. Ultimately the United Koreans held their nerve, finding the net four times to seal the result.
Sapmi 3 – 0 Western Armenia, Gagra
In the afternoon game in Gagra, a dominant Sapmi ran out 3-nil victors over Western Armenia to secure fifth place at #Abkhazia2016.
On Sunday 5 June, Panjab face Abkhazia at 7pm local time (GMT+3) in the #Abkhazia2016 Final. Earlier, at 3pm local time, Padania play Northern Cyprus in the third place playoff. Watch both games live on SolidTango or follow match updates on MobStats. Also be sure to follow our tournament updates on social media: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.