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June 3, 2018

WFC 2018 Recap – Day 3 (June 3)

Barawa v Ellan Vannin

Barawa 2-0 Ellan Vannin

Barawa has progressed to the quarter-finals of the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup, topping Group A with a 2-0 victory over Ellan Vannin in front of a large crowd at sunny Coles Park Stadium in London.

The Manx-men had the better of the early chances, displaying the form that had seen them win their opening group-stage encounters against Cascadia and Tamil Eelam. But tournament hosts Barawa withstood the early onslaught and grew into the match as the first-half progressed.

Ellan Vannin captain Frank Jones went close with a golden chance as the clock ticked towards the interval. His profligacy would be punished minutes later, when Barawa’s Mohammed Bettamer scored with a beautiful one-touch strike from the edge of the area.

Barawa began the second stanza in style, with some silky passing creating a number of half-opportunities for the Bravenese. A green card to Frank Keita – following an off-side call and subsequent altercation with the referee – threatened to derail Barawa’s bid for the play-offs. But just moments later, Shaquille Ismail doubled the advantage with a coolly taken opportunity. Despite several chances for Ellan Vannin, they were unable to grab a consolation goal and the match ended 2-0 to the home team – a diaspora football association representing a southern region of Somalia.

Barawa’s win and a Cascadia victory over Tamil Eelam in the other Group A fixture saw the two teams finish level on six points with Ellan Vannin. As the initial tie-break rule, head-to-head, failed to remove any team, group progression was determined by goal difference. Barawa ended on five goals, Cascadia on four and Ellan Vannin on three, with the Manx-men ending the group stage in third.

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Cascadia -Tamil Eelam

Cascadia 6-0 Tamil Eelam

Three hundred fans filled St Paul’s Sports Ground in central London, the home of Fisher FC, to watch Cascadia take on Tamil Eelam. Cascadia were playing for a place in the quarter-finals, while Tamil played for the pride of their raucous supporters.

It was a hot day at St Paul’s, with two water breaks in the first half alone. After a strong start by Tamil Eelam, on 10 minutes the score was opened from the penalty spot by Cascadian forward Jon Nouble following a foul by the goalkeeper. After a couple smart saves by Cascadia’s keeper Marment, the score was doubled by Cascadia’s Tayshon Haden-Smith, who spun in the box and volleyed into the roof of the net.

At half time, Cascadia led 2-0. In Group A’s other fixture, however, Barawa led Ellan Vannin 1-0, meaning that unless the Cascadians could score three more, they would still be heading to the placement matches and not on to the knockout stages.

The second half began evenly, but the Cascadians knew they needed to improve their goal difference, and soon they launched an incredible onslaught. Two goals by Yuri Farkas and Hayden-Smith brought the score to 4-0, and despite a red card to defender Matt Braem soon afterwards, their momentum did not slow. Jon Nouble curled a goal into the top corner to make it 5, and minutes later, hard-working Calum Ferguson broke through to make it 6.

In the final minutes Tamil Eelam pushed hard for a goal to reward their loud and loyal support, but they could not find one, and the final whistle capped an incredible effort by Cascadia, whose goal difference qualified them above Ellan Vannin and into the quarter finals. Last-placed Tamil Eelam were outclassed, but they will have further chances to entertain their supporters in the placement stages.

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Karpatalya - Tibet

Karpatalya 5-1 Tibet

Despite a spirited performance from Tibet, buoyed by their passionate crowd, Karpatalya emerged deserved 5-1 winners on a humid afternoon in Bracknell.

Karpatalya dominated the first half, led by the potent attacking trio of Ronald Takacs, Zsolt Gaidus, and Gyorgy Tone, as well as Zoltan Baksa, their marauding right wing-back. Their intensity was rewarded with a goal within just two minutes, when Gaidus slotted past Tenzin Samdup. Tibet made it all too easy.

The Karpatalyans relaxed for a short period after the first goal, affording Tibet a handful of chances, including two well-saved headers by Dema Lhundup. But a resolute defence and assured goalkeeping made sure that Tibet’s attacks were limited and short-lived, and Lhundup was too often isolated up front.

Karpatalya remained threatening, and eventually doubled their lead through a Gyorgy Sandor penalty, after Takacs was fouled in the box.

They added a third after 42 minutes, with Gaidus lancing the ball through a hapless Tibetan defence to provide the assist for Takacs.

The second half started quietly. Karpatalya looked relaxed and happy to soak up Tibetan attacks.

But Tibet made a breakthrough on the 69th minute: Tenzing Phardoe, acting as playmaker, scuffled with the Karpatalyan defence before finding the beleaguered Lhundup, whose potshot from outside the box found the back of the net to make it 3-1.

Tibet had a few more of these potshots, but Karpatalya scored two goals in quick succession, courtesy of Alex Svedjuk and Ronald Takacs, ending Tibetan chances of a comeback.

With Tibet losing width – Tenzing Yougyal cut a frustrated figure on the left – they were unable to forge any more chances, and a clumsy defence nearly cost them another goal.

Nonetheless, Tibet’s delightful supporters were in full voice through the game. During half time, a display of traditional Tibetan music and dance made sure the Tibetans would leave an indelible mark on this year’s competition.

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Abkhazia - Northern Cyprus

Abkhazia 2-2 Northern Cyprus

Holders Abkhazia relinquished the title they won in 2016, failing to beat Northern Cyprus in this tense finale to Group B.

As with their two previous games, Northern Cyprus started at a fast pace, threatening to overrun their opponents. Billy Mehmet went close in the opening minutes when his header rolled wide of the goal and Halil Turan missed from three yards with the goal at his mercy. Turan was again generous to the Abkhazia defence when he shot over the bar from close range.

Against the run of play, Abkhazia took the lead on 20 minutes, Maskaev scoring with a left-footed drive from the edge of the area.

It took just 12 minutes for Northern Cyprus to draw level, Unal Kaya leaping to rise above the Abkhazia defence from a free kick to head past Aleksei Bondarenko.

In the final seconds of the first half, Abkhazia almost went ahead again when Ashamur Tsishba’s free kick struck the crossbar.

The second half started quietly, with Northern Cyprus knowing that a draw would be enough to send them through to the last eight. Mehmet’s high shot from outside the area was only inches away from giving them the lead, but the tempo of the first 45 minutes was missing and that clearly suited the team that didn’t need to win.

Abkhazia, now needing a win, pushed forward and Maskaev’s outstretched boot almost turned the ball home, but there was no power in his effort.

Northern Cyprus, launched a furious counter attack, and Turan’s pace and powerful shot was pushed for a corner. Seconds later, in the 77th minute, Abkhazia’s defence was breached when Kenan Oshan netted from six yards.

In the closing minute of normal time, Abkhazia levelled from the penalty spot, Argyn calmly scoring despite a face-off with the Northern Cyprus keeper, Hasan Piro. It was too little, too late, for the now-deposed champions.

Northern Cyprus can be confident about their chances for the rest of the tournament, aware that they have yet to produce their best football for 90 minutes in a strong group.

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Padania - Székely Land

Padania 3-1 Székely Land

Padania secured top spot in Group C this evening with a 3-1 victory that was sandwiched in between, believe or not, some rather wonderful singing. Soprano Cristina Sferrazza began proceedings with a wonderful rendition of the Padania anthem.

But it was Székely Land who were on song early on, with Istvan Fülop hitting the crossbar with a free-kick after 2 minutes. Szabolcs Kis and Fülop missed a dangerous cross from the right by centimetres.

Padania’s Andrea Rota was foiled by Székely keeper Barna Nágy before, against the run of play, teammate Gianluca Rolandone headed in a Federico Corno cross from close range.

Székely Land dominated the first 25 minutes, but found themselves two goals down when Giacomo Innocente stole the ball from a defender and scored from close range.

Padania further extended their advantage when Nágy fumbled a corner, dropping the ball behind him. Ersid Pllumbaj was the quickest of two Padania players to react and headed the ball over the line.

Székely Land must’ve wondered how they had conceded three goals, but came out fighting after the break. They were awarded a penalty for a push after 52 minutes, but Barna Bájka’s spot-kick hit the underside of the bar.

From then on, Padania closed the game down to good effect, although Székely Land scored a consolation goal in the last minute through substitute Lászlo Szocs. Szocs chipped Padania keeper Marco Murriero, who got his hands to the ball, but Szocs ran behind him and half-volleyed the ball into the net. After the final whistle, Székely Land players and fans came together for a rousing rendition of their anthem, but Padania go singing and dancing into the quarter-finals as group winners.

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Tuvalu - Matabeleland

Tuvalu 1-3 Matabeleland

Crowd favourites Tuvalu and Matabeleland played out a thrilling end-to-end 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup match on Sunday, with the African side coming out 3-1 on top before an adoring crowd at Coles Park Stadium.

With their supporters in full song, Matabeleland started well and found an early goal through Shylock Ndlovu. But Tuvalu hit back not long after, Etimoni Timuani scoring Tuvalu’s first goal of the tournament to rapturous applause from the bench.

The blistering pace continued, with Shylock doubling his tally following a Matabeleland counter-attack late in the opening stanza. The Zimbabwe-based team were then awarded a penalty, only for Tuvalu’s goalkeeper Katepu Iosua to save the resulting spot-kick.

The second half began in much the same frenetic manner as the first, with chances aplenty. While the match ultimately petered out, with Tuvalu unable to find an equaliser, the large crowd and energetic football from two unlikely opponents provided a showcase example of CONIFA at its finest. A late penalty, converted without difficulty, put the result beyond doubt.

With each team losing in its opening two matches, neither Tuvalu nor Matabeleland had any prospect of progressing to the quarter-finals regardless of the result at Coles Park Stadium. Both teams will move to the placement rounds, which begin on Tuesday.

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Panjab - United Koreans in Japan

Panjab 1-1 United Koreans in Japan

Panjab progressed to the quarter-finals of the CONIFA Paddy Power World Football Cup after a hard-fought encounter with United Koreans in Japan ended in a dramatic 1-1 draw.

After two goalless draws in their opening matches, the Koreans looked set to concede their first goal of the tournament when the referee awarded Panjab a penalty in the opening minutes. Amarvir Sandhu was tripped as he attempted to turn in the box following a corner and the ref had no doubt in pointing to the spot – but Gurjit Singh’s poor effort was saved by the fingertips of Woo Dae Shim.

Singh almost made amends moments later with a curling effort from the edge of the box, but was again foiled by the keeper.

UKIJ grew into the game, creating numerous chances towards the end of the first half, with Ken Taniyama going close twice with a glancing header and a powerful turn and shot.

The game grew scrappier after half-time, with both sides receiving yellow cards. UKIJ, still chasing their first goal of the World Football Cup, went close when Taniyama’s cross bounced along the top of the Panjab crossbar.
It was Panjab who eventually broke the deadlock however, through another penalty. Jhai Dhillon darted into the box and was brought down from behind. With Gurjit Singh having been substituted, striker Amar Purewal stepped up and sent Shim the wrong way to put his side ahead.

Knowing that their place in the knockout stages of the tournament was on the line, UKIJ threw bodies forward in search of an equaliser. Eventually, in the 94th minute, they got it. If ever a goal was worth waiting 270 minutes of football for, this was it. The ball fell to Su Hyeon Mun 25 yards out, and he sent a bullet of a drive into the top corner of the net.

Despite failing to progress, the Koreans at least had this moment of consolation. Panjab go on to face Padania in Tuesday’s quarter-finals, in what promises to be a tasty encounter.

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Western Armenia - Kabylia

Western Armenia 4-0 Kabylia

Western Armenia dominated the opening 10 minutes of their match at Enfield Stadium, and took an early lead over Kabylia with their first goal inside 20 minutes by Arman Mosoyan. Further attempts to add to Western Armenia’s goal count were unsuccessful, with a lack of Western Armenian attackers in the penalty area providing Kabylia’s defence and keeper with ample opportunities to retake possession of the ball.

Kabylia’s Sami Boudia and Enzo Mezaib took control of the ball in an attempt at Kabylia’s first goal, but the pressure of 1-0 proved too much for these Kabylian players, and a free kick was awarded to Western Armenia as a result of shirt-tugging. Western Armenia didn’t make the most of this opportunity, with the ball failing to reach the goal.

Kabylia soon gained greater possession of the ball towards the end of the first half, but a goal scored by Elhadi Boukir was ruled offside by the referees, and subsequently disallowed, ensuring first half finished goalless for Kabylia.

The second half appeared promising for Kabylia, with players demonstrating much more control of the ball and edging closer towards Western Armenia’s goal.

Western Armenia soon made clear who was dominant, however, with a second goal 10 minutes into the second half by Vicken Valenza Berberian.

With Western Armenia’s attack proving much stronger in this half, they ensured two further goals against Kabylia, making the score 4-0 at the end. A spectacular solo attack from Berberian guaranteed the third goal, as Kabylia’s keeper tripped over in his blocking attempts as the ball landed in the back of the net. Only a few minutes later, Western Armenia’s fourth goal was secured by Vahagn Militosyan.

Kabylia’s fans at Enfield gave stunning vocal performances despite their team’s loss, but a hard-fought win by Western Armenia left their fans sounding the most cheerful at the final whistle.

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By Robin Toal

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