Author: Olaf Jensen; Image credit: David Ghahramanya
The final – perhaps predictably, but certainly disappointingly – began much as any other final does, cagey, lacking tempo and purpose.
It took South Ossetia’s Gurtsiev, one of the tournament’s standout players, to make the first breakthrough, cutting inside to force a save from Kasparov. His was a ubiquitous presence on the Ossetian right flank, menacing the Western Armenian goalkeeper more than once.
Western Armenia were sloppy on the ball, and too often stifled their own counterattacks by losing possession in the final third. The Ossetian keeper was tested by a low, long-range shot from outside the box by Yedigaryan, and Hovsepyan was nearly allowed to slip through unmarked, but they were denied by to the resolute South Ossetian defence – including Kaitov, whose head was still bandaged from an injury earlier in the tournament.
This sloppiness nearly cost them – three Western Armenian players received yellow cards in the first half, and it took a desperate goalmouth scramble to deny South Ossetia a goal late on.
Western Armenia started the second half with renewed energy and confidence, but the South Ossetian defence remained too well-disciplined.
South Ossetia, meanwhile, built slowly and purposefully, demonstrating a greater depth of skill than their more solid Western Armenian counterparts.
But they ultimately had their best chances from fast-paced counterattacks, firstly through a glancing Bazaev header, and then as the same player was brought down by Guzel deep in the Western Armenian half.
It was from the ensuing free kick that Bazaev netted the game’s only goal, firing past the outstretched Kasparov – but not without some measure of confusion, as the Western Armenian players swarmed the referee to protest the goal. South Ossetia took the lead.
Western Armenia attacked desperately, piling on enormous amounts of pressure, with captain Yedigaryan spraying the ball out wide to the substitute Hovhannisyan, who created plenty of chances through high balls whipped into the South Ossetian box.
Despite plenty of possession, Western Armenia’s poor first touch and sloppy passing meant they struggled to capitalise on it.
But they nearly had their chance. Brought down by a uncharacteristically shabby South Ossetian defending, Davoyan had the chance to equalise from the spot. His weak penalty effort was nudged out by goalkeeper Buraev.
It was to be the last touch of the game. The outcome was in no doubt. South Ossetia are the CONIFA Sportsbet.io European Football Cup Champions.