Show Your Support This Summer!

The hotly anticipated CONIFA Sportsbet.io European Football Cup 2019 gets underway in Artsakh this weekend, as eight member FAs aim to take home the silverware.

The tournament’s fixtures get started on Sunday 2nd June and you can look the part with merchandise from one of the competing teams!

We’ve joined up with Batemans Sports to help you get your hands on replica shirts and zip tops from the eight FAs participating in Artsakh.

To get hold of yours, visit https://www.batemanssports.co.uk/conifa/ and make your choice!

It’s a cultural delight…

With the CONIFA sportsbet.io European Football Cup just a few hours away, excitement is rising ahead of our latest tournament, as eight teams travel to Artsakh to stake their claim for the silverware.

Alongside the competitive action on the pitch, supporters making the trip to Artsakh will also get the chance to sample the rich culture and history on offer from our hosts.

The opening ceremony takes place at 8pm local time on June 1st, bringing together music and dance from across the region at the Stepanakert Stadium, including Sirusho, Armenia’s 2008 Eurovision entrant, The Gipsy Gitanes Band and successful pianist Anahit Arushanyan.

After that opening ceremony, there will be up to four games a day at the CONIFA Sportsbet.io European Football Cup, meaning a plethora of action to keep the ardent football fan entertained.

But there will also be the chance to consume the culture of Artsakh, not least on the tournament rest days on the 5th and 7th of June.

For a full itinerary of the cultural events on offer in Artsakh during the tournament, see here!

Football streaming platform MyCujoo signs multi-year partnership with the Confederation of Independent Football Nations (CONIFA)

  • CONIFA is the international governing body for non-FIFA affiliated football associations, including Chagos Islands, Rohingya and Northern Cyprus
  • First tournament to fully feature on the MyCujoo platform is the eight-team 2019 CONIFA Sportsbet.io European Football Cup, taking place 1 – 9 June in Artsakh, a de facto nation in the Caucasus.
  • New deal strengthens MyCujoo’s vision for creating an international football community and builds on the success of recent partnerships signed in US, Brazil and Japan
  • MyCujoo – which provides high-quality broadcast without fees or subscription – is the only site that allows players to claim and share their own highlights on its football communities network

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, May 30, 2019

Football streaming network MyCujoo has announced a multi-year partnership with the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA) to stream its tournaments. These include the CONIFA Sportsbet.io European Football Cup 2019 which kicks off in Artsakh this week, the 2020 CONIFA Sportsbet.io World Football Cup to be held Somaliland, and the inaugural CONIFA Women’s World Football Cup.

CONIFA is the international governing body for football associations in states, minorities, stateless peoples and regions unaffiliated with FIFA. The partnership – which runs until 2020 – comes after MyCujoo streamed a number of matches of the 2018 CONIFA World Football Cup, held in London. The deal, which is based on a shared revenue agreement, includes exclusive digital media rights to stream the competition (exempt from the host location) and  competition data rights.

The first tournament MyCujoo will broadcast in full is CONIFA sportsbet.io European Football Cup 2019, which runs from 1-9 June. This third edition of the tournament takes place in Artsakh, the  Armenian-populated region of Nagorno Karabakh that declared its independence from Azerbaijan unilaterally in 1991. The eight sides competing the tournament are:

  • Artsakh
  • Abkhazia – a de facto nation on the east coast of the Black Sea.
  • Padania –  a region spanning the Po Valley in Northern Italy.
  • Székely Land – an  area in Romania, inhabited mainly by the Szeklers, a subgroup of the Hungarian People from eastern Transylvania.
  • Sapmi – who represent the Sami People that inhabit the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia .
  • Western Armenia – the western part of the Armenian Highlands, a territory nowadays situated in Turkey.
  • Chameria – an area in Greece, inhabited mainly by the Cham, a subgroup of the Albanian People from the region of Epirus.
  • South Ossetia – a de facto nation in the Caucasus..

Amsterdam-based MyCujoo is transforming the football broadcast market by providing rights-holders like CONIFA with top-quality broadcasting technology without fees or subscriptions.

MyCujoo offers viewers anywhere in the world unlimited football content, while enabling players and fans to take an active, creative role in content creation and distribution. Players of all levels are able to tag themselves in recordings,  produce their own highlights reels and share these socially with whomever they choose, creating the largest football community network.

MyCujoo CEO, Pedro Presa, said:

“We like to think that MyCujoo is the natural home for an organisation like CONIFA.  Our vision is to create a network of football players and football fans where everyone belongs – no matter where they are or where the come from. People talk a lot about football being a common language but at MyCujoo, we are doing something about it. We’re building the infrastructure which a community like CONIFA and its members need.”

Sascha Duerköp, General Secretary of CONIFA, said:

‘It’s fantastic news that we are able to work with MyCujoo on this basis going forward. Their support during the 2018 World Football Cup was invaluable and we’re really happy to be taking our partnership into the next tournaments with them. Mycujoo allows everyone to watch football, wherever they are in the world, and that really fits in with CONIFA’s ethos.’

2019 is proving to be a year of exceptional growth for MyCujoo as it continues to expand its unparalleled global football content portfolio. In the last month alone MyCujoo has signed deals in the United States with the National Premier Soccer League and with the CBF in Brazil. The CBF deal includes exclusive, worldwide digital rights for several key Brazilian competitions, including Brasileirão Série D, U23, U20 and U17 league and cup matches, and the Feminino Serie A and B.

This year also has seen multi-year content partnerships with the Oceania Football Confederation, Malaysia Football League and Japan Women’s Football League, and a product evolution focusing on activating the community of football players featured on the platform.

About MyCujoo

Launched in 2014, MyCujoo completely subverts the traditional sports broadcasting model by providing free, state-of-the-art broadcast technology to rights-holders and unlimited content to viewers. MyCujoo’s technology allows live streams to be broadcast from a device as simple as a mobile phone to multiple media including MyCujoo’s platform; a user app for Android and iOS; and embedded streams on rights-holder and third-party platforms.

MyCujoo technology is available at no cost to rights-holders and the content it carries is also free to viewers, removing almost all of the barriers to football clubs who want to share their content, as well as to fans who want to consume it. With users in more than 200 territories across six continents, MyCujoo is the world’s leading football streaming service and is empowering federations, leagues and clubs to live-stream their competitions and matches, as well as enabling the creation of sports communities at a national, regional and hyper-local level.

MyCujoo provides opportunities for the distribution, monetisation, and commercialisation of rights-holders own data and content, and offers the sports world a chance to be valued and appreciated, anywhere and by anyone.

Contact:

media@mycujoo.tv

press@conifa.org

Review: New Book Charts CONIFA’S Journey So Far

With all eyes on Artsakh over the coming week, CONIFA’s efforts to take football around the world will again be hitting the headlines.

Eight teams will be participating in this year’s CONIFA Sportbet.io European Football Cup 2019, the latest tournament for CONIFA’s member nations to stake their claim for silverware.

The competition in Artsakh follows the massively successful World Football Cup in London last year – and Dublin-based journalist James Hendicott took inspiration from the events in the UK to write his book CONIFA: Football for the Forgotten.

The book takes a detailed look at CONIFA’s journey to date, speaking to those behind the formation of the constantly growing organisation. Member nations also get the chance to tell their story, in a compelling page-turner for those football fans fascinated about CONIFA’s role in the global game.

James tells us all about his publication and how it all came together…

Firstly, can you tell us why you decided you wanted to write this book?

“I only discovered CONIFA a few months before the London tournament, and it happened to coincide with a lot of question marks about identity and representation, as well as disillusionment with football, that I have in my own life.

“CONIFA has this kind of rustic, thrown-together charm to it that I really love, and teams with absolutely wonderful stories behind them. Back in early 2018, I spent a couple of days reading about plans for London, checked if anyone had beaten me to a book, and set about planning 10 days in London to cover the tournament. To be honest, I felt a bit like a cat that had stumbled across the sporting cream. When you’re passionate about writing, the chance to write about the people behind entities like Kabylia (whose staff were arrested in the build-up to CONIFA 2018), Matabeleland (who came through the end of Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe, somehow pulling together the money for London along the way), and Cascadia (who met for the first time the day before it all kicked off) is just too good to turn down.”

What did you enjoy the most whilst putting the book together?

“I think the openness of everyone around CONIFA was probably the best thing about it all. I love the stories I came across, and working my way around the language barrier to get tales from various competing sides was really quite interesting.

“Because of this, the book is a far deeper dive than I really thought might be possible ahead of time. At times I was amazed to be given such access, and I think it’s a real credit to the organisation that in a fairly ‘tell-all’ style book, they still come out of things fairly well. I do wonder if some of the people involved would talk to me so openly again, in hindsight (I hope so!), but I’m grateful for it.”

The book is a fantastic introduction to the question of ‘Who or what is CONIFA?’ Was that a key starting point for you when putting the book together?

“It was certainly important. At the beginning, I really was learning what CONIFA is myself, and naturally, that made it somewhat easier to try and explain the organisation to someone who didn’t know it very well – similarly, I didn’t know a great deal until I started a long, long series of interviews.

“I think the roots of CONIFA are fascinating. The development of the organisation from the far looser NF-Board, and how much Per-Anders Blind, in particular, was willing to put on the line to get things underway (he very nearly bankrupted himself) is fascinating. I wanted to tell the story of a Sapmi reindeer-herding businessman (Per-Anders) and a German football shirt collector (Sascha Duerköp) founding a multi-continental organisation running massive events, and to do so in their own words.

“As well as the story of CONIFA itself, though, it was important to me to touch on the stories of a few of the teams involved, and those run pretty deep, too. I felt quite emotional hearing those stories at some games. CONIFA’s broader story is incredibly wide in its scope – the recent addition of the first South American team to the organisation, completing the continental line up, really shows that.”

Which of the CONIFA member nations’ stories were you most fascinated by, and why?

I don’t think I’d be alone in having a fascination with Tibet, and having been to Dharamsala, the Tibetan enclave of India, they held an instant allure for me. They play this really freestyle, relaxed type of football that it’s easy to love. As much as it’s massively cliched, I’d almost call it ‘zen football’. I have some loose links to the United Koreans, too, having lived in South Korea for a couple of years, so I felt connected to their culture.

“I think Kabylia probably won out, overall, though, because their story is just incredible. They represent a region of Algeria that has long campaigned for independence and the football team’s existence is extremely politically sensitive over there, so much so that all their players in London were drawn from European-based emigrants from Kabylia, for their own safety. I met people in the stands in London wearing their yellow shirts who spent half the game in tears as they watched the team.”

What do you think are the biggest opportunities and challenges for CONIFA in the coming years?

“I think CONIFA’s expansion since the 2018 tournament speaks for itself; things are looking very positive, though there are a few specific risks that stand out to me. The finances are an obvious one and while I don’t speak for CONIFA, I’d encourage anyone with an interest in them to sign up as an individual member. You get a say in direction, and will help them survive.

“I think CONIFA does a great job of navigating the political sensitivities of what they do, too, but there’s definitely potential for issues there, too. I think CONIFA has done well to keep their noses out of the politics in general, and their success in doing so is quite an achievement.

“There are challenges, in other words, but nothing insurmountable in my view. CONIFA also seems to have a big role to play in drawing communities together and fostering positive relationships between people who might be broadly politically opposed most of the time.”

What has been the reaction to the book so far, and have you heard much from the member nations themselves about their coverage?

“I’ve had some fantastic coverage from the media that normally covers relatively fringe football in several countries, as well as going on podcasts and radio, and generally, the feedback from readers has been extremely positive, which is really great, and I’m very grateful. I think what CONIFA does is so outside of the average football fan’s awareness and experience, and the stories behind the teams tend to excite people.

“I’ve heard from plenty from the CONIFA executive and quite a few teams, however. They almost universally love the book in general, and almost universally have some part of it they don’t love so much!”

Sum up CONIFA in three words!

“Ambitious. Storied. Memorable.”

James’ book is available for purchase from his website or, if you’re heading out to Artsakh, limited numbers will be available to purchase through CONIFA at this summer’s tournament!

Get ready to chant…

The CONIFA Sportsbet.io European Football Cup 2019, taking place between 1st-9th June in Artsakh, now has its very own anthem… and you can check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/

Entitled Lokh Lava (meaning ‘all is good’ in the Arstakhian dialect), the upbeat and catchy song is performed by group Voices of Artsakh.

The song is a direct result of teamwork between current and former members of the group. The music and arrangement is by Artem Valter, and the lyrics are by Sarine Balasanyan, both of whom are former members of Voices of Artsakh.

“I believe we have a song and music video that shows how fascinating Artsakh is, and invites everybody to come here and enjoy it,” says Lira Kocharyan, Voices of Artsakh producer and also the director and producer of this rather cute and cool music video. With its anthemic chorus and catchy rhythm, Lokh Lava is bound to have everyone visiting Artsakh for the CONIFA Sportsbet.io European Football Cup chanting it on the terraces this summer. All together now… ‘We are CONIFA!’

Cascadia take on Chagos Islands in sunny Surrey

Author: Olaf Jensen; Image credit: Brad Merrett

On a sunny afternoon at Whyteleafe FC, Cascadia produced a dominant display to emerge as 6-3 winners in a friendly match against a battling Chagos Islands side.

Cascadia’s superiority was in evidence from the start.

Throughout the first half, Cascadia were more creative – faster, better on the ball and better in front of goal. Max Oldham pulled the strings from the centre of the field, producing deft touches and creating chances for the likes of Chase Boone and Callum Powell to latch on to.

But the Chagossians had their own chances, using their players’ strength to attack Cascadia on the counter – but their attackers too often failed to connect.

After 23 minutes, Callum Powell put Cascadia in front with a driving run and a low shot – a lead doubled a minute later, when Oldham’s rebound shot was tapped in by Chase Boone.

However, Cascadia couldn’t cement their dominant position, and the Chagos Islands built up a head of steam, rewarded following a series of near misses – including a lovely turn of play by Mervin Bonjon – by a Hansley Sagai goal on the 34th minute.

Cascadia steadily managed to regain control over the match. The Chagossians were robust and disruptive, but were unable to handle showboating from the talented Cascadian attackers.

On the brink of half time, Cascadia won back their two-goal cushion after Angelo Calfo headed in from a corner.

Max Oldham added a fourth early in the second half, answered moments later after Mervin Bonjon scored from a penalty, having been brought down by clumsy Cascadian defenders.

By this time, however, the Chagos Islands were flagging, their lower energy in evidence as Cascadia heaped pressure on the Chagossian defence, aiming to regain that three-goal lead.

And they did so 15 minutes from full time, Callum Powell scoring his second after a big run and big shot into the right side of the goal – unstoppable, despite the best efforts of the goalkeeper Ivan Antalika. Boone added his second just five minutes later, capping off a dominant performance from the two Cascadian strikers.

Chagos Islands reduced the deficit once more, Andrew Heroseau scoring very much against the run of play.

Their performance was spirited, but the Cascadians’ skillful attackers and efficiency in front of goal was too much for the now-exhausted Chagossians.

But with nine goals and plenty of action, the two teams can take heart from the fabulous display they put on for the sizeable and enthusiastic Bank Holiday-weekend crowd.

The Road to Artsakh 2019: full fixture schedule announced

The fixture schedule and venues for the 2019 CONIFA Sportsbet.io European Football Cup has been announced, as excitement builds towards the tournament in Artsakh taking place in early June.

Following the unfortunate withdrawal of four teams (Donetsk, Luhansk, Sardinia, and County of Nice), the tournament format will now be two groups of four teams, rather than the four groups of three drawn at the CONIFA AGM in January. Artsakh, Sapmi, Abkhazia, and Chameria now make up Group A, with Padania, Szekely Land, Western Armenia, and South Ossetia comprising Group B. The groups will use a round-robin format, in which they play every other team in their group once.

The national Stepanakert Republican Stadium will hold the opening ceremony on 1st June, with a diverse group of performers set to open the tournament in style. It will also be the venue for Artsakh’s opening Group A match against Sapmi at 6.30pm local time on 2nd June. The other fixture in that group, between Abkhazia and Chameria, will get the football action underway at 4pm.

The group stages will operate with a schedule of four group matches per day on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th June. The 6th will see the semi-finals, as the winners of each group take on the 2nd-placed side in the other group. Sunday 9th June will be the grand finale in Stepanakert as the two semi-final victors go head-to-head for the title.

The 8th will feature the conclusion of the placement games, which ensure every side which makes the journey to Artsakh plays the same number of games. The 5th and 7th June have been allocated as rest days, and will focus on a wide range cultural events around the region.

In addition to the impressive 12,000-capacity arena in Stepanakert, matches will be divided between three further stadiums, all within an hour’s car journey from the city. The Askeran City Stadium, the home of last year’s inaugural Artsakh Football League runners-up Berd Askeran, will host 5 games in total, including one of the semi-finals.

The towns of Martakert and Martuni will also see plenty of action across the tournament, with Martuni staging the host’s final two group stage fixtures. All venues have undergone improvement work to prepare them for the footballing festivities.

The tournament promises to be a densely packed week of football, and all competing teams can now plot their route to the CONIFA Sportsbet.io European Football Cup final.

For the full list of venues and timings, see here. Stay tuned for information about tickets, live streaming and our coverage of the tournament by following us on CONIFA’s social media:

Facebook: @CONIFA

Twitter: @CONIFAofficial

Instagram: @conifaofficial

ROAD TO GLORY REVEALED FOR CONIFA SPORTSBET.IO EUROPEAN FOOTBALL CUP 2019

Image: CONIFA/Jana Cavojska

The road to glory in the CONIFA Sportsbet.io European Football Cup 2019 has been confirmed for this year’s tournament in Artsakh, with eight member countries battling it out for the silverware on offer in June 2019.

The competition, which runs from 1st – 9th June, follows on from 2018’s hugely successful CONIFA World Football Cup held in London, and brings together teams from across Europe eager to be this year’s winners.

Per-Anders Blind, CONIFA President, said: “We can’t wait to get started with this year’s tournament. The World Football Cup in 2018 was a hugely positive event for CONIFA and our member countries, and we are looking forward to welcoming the teams to Artsakh and to working with our hosts to run another successful week of football.”

Joe McCallum, Director of Sportsbook from tournament sponsors Sportsbet.io, said: “The tournament is a true celebration of football and we at Sportsbet.io simply love the beautiful game so are thrilled to be able to be a part of this June’s action.

“It’s clear all the teams have been hard at work preparing for the tournament and we’re excited to see who’ll be lifting the cup at the final on the 9th.”

The tournament will be played across four venues in Artsakh, with the final being held on Stepanakert on the evening of the 9th.

And the hosts Artsakh will get their efforts underway with a match against Sapmi on June 2nd, launching a busy schedule of fixtures.

Narine Aghabalyan, Minister of Education, Science and Sport for the Republic of Artsakh added: “CONIFA does everything to ensure everyone can feel the joy of playing football.

“We are hopeful that the championship will contribute to the development of football and the strengthening of peace in Artsakh.

“As hosts, we have prepared an exciting event programme so the championship becomes a true feast for all participants and guests.

“The doors of Artsakh are open to all who wish to come and enjoy football. Let the ball draw a bridge of friendship between us!”

This year’s CONIFA Sportsbet.io European Football Cup is the third to have taken place so far, following tournaments in Hungary in 2015 and Northern Cyprus two years later.

Sascha Düerkop, General Secretary for CONIFA, said: “It promises to be a fantastic week of football and we are excited about what Artsakh has to offer us as a host venue in 2019.

“There look to be some very competitive fixtures lined up in the group stages and we are looking forward to see who will make it through to contest the final on 9th June.”

Of the 8 teams competing in this year’s CONIFA Sportsbet.io European Football Cup 2019, twice European champions Padania will be hoping to add to their tally of silverware in Artsakh, while 2016 World Football Cup champions Abkhazia will be seeking their first win in this tournament.

Alberto Rischio, European President of CONIFA, said: “Our European members performed very well at last year’s World Football Cup, so I am certain that this year’s tournament will be of a very high standard.

“We saw some great crowds in London and we’re expecting that this year’s tournament will be well supported by the public of Artsakh and fans from further afield.”

Following an opening ceremony in Stepanakert on June 1st, the full fixture schedule for the CONIFA Sportsbet.io European Football Cup is as follows:-

Group A Group B
Artsakh Padania
Sapmi Szekely Land
Abkhazia Western Armenia
Chameria South Ossetia

 

2nd June
16:00 Abkhazia v Chameria (Askeran)
18:00 Padania v Szekely Land (Martakert)
18:00 Western Armenia v South Ossetia (Martuni)
18:30 Artsakh v Sapmi (Stepanakert)

3rd June
16:00 Szekely Land v Western Armenia (Askeran)
18:00 Sapmi v Abkhazia (Martakert)
18:00 Chameria v Artsakh (Martuni)
18:30 South Ossetia v Padania (Stepanakert)

4th June
16:00 South Ossetia v Szekely Land (Askeran)
18:00 Artsakh v Abkhazia (Martuni)
18:00 Chameria v Sapmi (Martakert)
18:30 Padania v Western Armenia (Stepanakert)

6th June
18:00 (PL1) Group A 3rd v Group B 4th (Martuni)
18:00 (PL2) Group B 3rd v Group A 4th (Martakert)

18:30 (SF1) Group A 1st v Group B 2nd (Stepanakert)
16:00 (SF2) Group B 1st v Group A 2nd (Askeran)

8th June
16:00 Loser PL1 v Loser PL2 (Askeran)
11:00 Winner PL2 v Winner PL1 (Martuni)
18:30 Loser SF2 v Loser SF1 (Stepanakert, Bronze)

9th June
18:00 Winner SF1 v Winner SF2 (Stepanakert, Final)

Match schedule: CONIFA Sportsbet.io European Football Cup 2019

CONIFA is delighted to announce the match schedule for the upcoming CONIFA Sportsbet.io European Football Cup 2019. The tournament will take place between 1st-9th June in Artsakh, with 8 teams competing to take home the coveted CONIFA Sportsbet.io European Football Cup.

After the unfortunate late withdrawal of Sardinia, County of Nice, Donetsk and Luhansk, the previous four groups were merged into two, entitled A and B, and are as follows:

Group A:
Artsakh
Sapmi
Abkhazia
Chameria

Group B:
Padania
Szekely Land
Western Armenian
South Ossetia

The teams will play each other once in the group stages, with teams then progressing to semi final and placement matches. The final will take place in Stepanakert at 6:30pm on Sunday 9th June.

The schedule in full is as follows:
Saturday 1st June:
Opening ceremony
8pm, Stepanakert

Sunday 2nd June:
Abkazia v Chameria
4pm, Askeran

Padania v Szekely Land
6pm, Martakert

Western Armenia v South Ossetia
6pm, Martuni

Artsakh v Sapmi
6:30pm, Stepanakert

Monday 3rd June:
Szekely Land v Western Armenia
4pm, Askeran

Chameria v Artsakh
6pm, Martuni

Sapmi v Abkhazia
6pm, Martakert

South Ossetia v Padania
6:30pm, Stepanakert

Tuesday 4th June
South Ossetia v Szekely Land
4pm, Askeran

Artsakh v Abkhazia
6pm, Martuni

Chameria v Sapmi
6pm, Martakert

Padania v Western Armenia
6:30pm, Stepanakert

Wednesday 5th June:
Rest day

Thursday 6th June:
Group A 3rd v Group B 4th (PL1)
5pm, Martuni

Group B 3rd v Group A 4th (PL2)
5pm, Martakert

Group B 1st v Group A 2nd (SF2)
4pm, Askeran

Group A 1st v Group B 2nd (SF1)
6:30pm, Stepanakert

Friday 7th June:
Rest day

Saturday 8th June:
Loser PL1 v Loser PL2
4pm, Askeran

Winner PL2 v Winner PL1
5pm, Martuni

Loser SF2 v Loser SF1 (3rd place match)
6:30pm, Stepanakert

Sunday 9th June
Final (Winner SF1 v Winner SF2)
6:30pm, Stepanakert

The closing ceremony will follow the final. CONIFA hopes all visiting guests and media will have a wonderful time in Artsakh!

* Please note, all times are local (GMT +3)

Yorkshire v Somaliland: 8 goals and 2 penalties made for an exciting start to the Vikings’ summer season

Words: Isaac Martin | Photo: Mark Parsons

Yorkshire got their 2019 season under way in impressive fashion as they came out 6-2 winners over Somaliland at Athersley Recreation FC.

A debut hat-trick from James Walshaw saw the Vikings on their way to an impressive victory over the 2020 CONIFA Sportsbet.io World Football Cup hosts.

The game got off to a blistering start, as the debutant Walshaw was fouled in the box, leading to referee Karl Parker pointing straight to the spot in the 19th minute.

The Scarborough Athletic FC marksman then dusted himself off and dinked a lovely penalty into the back of the net to open his international account and start off the scoring for the afternoon.

Although Somaliland were clearly a team going through lots of changes, they had several technically gifted players, but the hosts just didn’t give them a chance to get going in the opening stages of the tie.

The second goal of the game – and probably the pick of the bunch – came in the 42nd minute. The Somaliland defence seemed to switch off after contesting a decision by the referee, but Yorkshire took full advantage of this as the ball fell to Matt Dempsey just inside the box, who took control with his chest and then bent a lovely effort past the opposing keeper into the far-left corner. An effort any striker would be proud of, never mind a defender!

In the second half, it appeared Somaliland might sneak back into the tie; a thunderous strike from their number 11, Abdi, was too much for the Vikings keeper George Clarke to deal with.

Despite this, Yorkshire soon got their two-goal cushion back. In the 64th minute, Brodie Litchfield picked up his second Yorkshire goal in two games with a smart finish inside the box.

Despite pressure from Abdi, Yorkshire found their fourth goal of the afternoon in the 73rd minute. After a rare shot from Loz Hunter was saved by the keeper, Walshaw was there to head in the rebound and pick up his second of the afternoon.

Two minutes later, referee Karl Parker would point to the spot for the second time of the afternoon in favour of Yorkshire, following some heavy challenges from Somaliland. Looking for his debut hat-trick, Walshaw stepped up but couldn’t squeeze it past the visiting keeper.

Luckily for the hosts, another debutant – Jack Normanton – was first to the rebound to get the Vikings’ fifth goal of the afternoon.

 

Walshaw wouldn’t rue that missed opportunity for long, though, as in the 83rd minute after another foul from the visiting side, captain Pat McGuire whipped a perfectly weighted cross into the box that evaded everyone but Walshaw at the far post – who nodded it home.

Somaliland weren’t down and out just yet though; the shining light for the side, Abdi, grabbed his second of the game in the 87th minute, a consolation goal perhaps, but one he deserved for his quality of play throughout the match.

By Isaac Martin