What happened in Northern Cyprus 2017… and what to expect from Artsakh 2019!
Heard about the 2019 European Football Cup that’s taking place in Artsakh in 2019? We’re looking forward to bringing you lots of news and information about the tournament and its host as developments unfold ahead of 2019’s CONIFA showpiece event.
But before we get to that, here’s a quick look back at how the 2017 EFC played out… and a taster of what to expect at 2019’s tournament!
The 2017 CONIFA European Football Cup
Held in Northern Cyprus, the 2017 EFC saw eight teams competing for glory across four host cities.
Northern Cyprus is a self-declared state in the north-eastern portion of Cyprus, and it proclaimed its independence in 1983. Recognised by Turkey, it hosted the second-ever European Football Cup, with the following CONIFA members taking part:
- South Ossetia
- Northern Cyprus
- Ellan Vannin
- Szekely Land
- Upper Hungary
The locals topped Group A, while then-World Football Cup champions Abkhazia progressed with them, finishing second. In Group B, automatic qualifiers Padania and Szekely Land progressed into the knockout stages.
In the first semi-final, Padania and Abkhazia held each other to a draw after 90 minutes, with Padania eventually beating Abkhazia 6-5 on penalties. Meanwhile, Northern Cyprus triumphed over Szekely Land to set up the final between Padania and Northern Cyprus.
The final ended 1-1 after 90 minutes, with Padania taking the title, winning 3-2 on penalties.
Reflecting on the 2017 tournament, Padania’s team manager, Marco Gotta, said:
“The whole tournament was unbelievable: the accommodation in one of the most beautiful resorts I’ve ever seen, the stadiums, the crowd. We’ll love to play in Artsakh in a sold-out stadium, every soccer player gives his best when he’s supported like that. It would be easy to choose the moment we lifted the European Football Cup as Padania’s best moment of the tournament, but the whole week was outstanding, and we hope to experience something like that again in Artsakh.
“We are the only team that has taken part in every CONIFA competition and we want to rise again after the defeat in the WFC 2018’s semi-final. This time we’ll aim for gold.”
What to expect in Artsakh 2019?
So when the announcement was made that CONIFA was heading to Artsakh for the 2019 European Football Cup, lots of people said ‘Where?’ Let us enlighten you. Nagorno-Karabakh is a de-facto state in the Caucasus region. The republic formed its first football league, the Artsakh League, in 2009.
The Artsakh Football Federation (AFF) was established in 2012, led by Samuel Karapetyan, whose aim has been to have Artsakh recognised by UEFA.
CONIFA general secretary Sascha Düerkop said about the 2019 tournament:
“Artsakh 2019 is a huge opportunity to build on the media and public attention we got, especially from London at the 2018 World Football Cup. It is our third World Cup or European tournament being held in an unrecognised or partially recognised country (with Abkhazia in 2016 and Northern Cyprus in 2017), and we hope this time to have a bigger influx of tourists and fans from all over Europe after the success of London. It is an opportunity to really make Artsakh the capital of football in Europe next summer.
“The locals will absolutely get behind the tournament, that’s what we experienced in Northern Cyprus, and most of all in Abkhazia – so we expect sell-out stadiums, a good level of football and definitely an amazing atmosphere.”
With preparations underway and excitement levels building for the competition next summer, the teams are already beginning to prepare for the tournament. With the standard improving year upon year, Düerkop believes it will be a very competitive European Football Cup indeed.
“It’s early days but Northern Cyprus look in shape. They are building every year, getting better and better with their team. They looked very good in London. However, Karpatalya are the reigning world champions and definitely contenders too. Artsakh, with its home crowd, will be strong as well.”