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June 7, 2018

WFC 2018 Recap – Day 5 (June 7)

SEMIFINALS (1st-4th)

Northern Cyprus - Padania

Northern Cyprus 3-2 Padania

On Thursday afternoon in Carshalton, Northern Cyprus rewarded their raucous support with a trip to the CONIFA Paddy Power World Football Cup final after defeating Padania 3-2 in a close and entertaining encounter.

An edgy beginning gave way to a period of Northern Cyprus domination. Kenan Oshan missed a gilt-edged chance when he volleyed a breakaway over the bar, and minutes later goalkeeper Marco Murriero made a terrific save as he parried away Halil Turan’s close-range header. But it was Padania who took the lead against the run of play, when Ersid Pllumbaj broke through the defense and slotted past Hasan Piro.

Northern Cyprus responded swiftly, and Billy Mehmet found an equaliser when he spun on the top of the box and arrowed in a low shot to the goalkeeper’s right. The balance turned again just before half time when Padania retook the lead as Nicolo Pavan slotted home from close range, leaving Northern Cyprus stunned as they headed to the dressing room.

Buoyed by their loud and loyal support, Northern Cyprus dominated possession and chances in the second half as they searched for another equaliser. Padania withstood the mounting attack for more than half an hour, thanks to two heroic clearances by Bonfanti, but eventually the pressure was rewarded with the equaliser from a corner kick: Murriero made a fantastic reflex save off a header, but Turan was on hand to head in the rebound and spark jubilant celebrations. Just minutes later, rampant Northern Cyprus took the lead as Mehmet stretched to convert Turan’s cutback and send the Northern Cypriot fans into ecstasy.

The beautiful match saw an ugly conclusion as frustrated Padania were reduced to ten men after violent play by Rolandone. A minute later, the referee’s final whistle confirmed Northern Cyprus’ place in the World Football Cup final. Their fans launched into song, while the Padanians collapsed disconsolate on the pitch. It was a dramatic end to a high-quality semifinal.

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SEMIFINALS (1st-4th)

Karpatalya - Székely Land

Karpatalya 4-2 Székely Land

Karpatalya have progressed to the final of the CONIFA Paddy Power World Football Cup 2018, beating their Hungarian counterparts Szekely Land at Carshalton.

Szekely Land found themselves 3-0 down at one stage – but a late comeback ensured an exciting finish at the War Memorial Sports Ground.

Both teams, each part of a Hungarian diaspora, were backed by tremendous vocal support throughout.

Karpatalya broke the deadlock midway through the first half with a fine solo goal to set the tempo.

Minutes later, Szekely Land were awarded a penalty – but a fantastic double save from the goalkeeper kept the one-goal advantage heading into half time.

The goalkeeper was the talking point for Karpatalya’s second too, when a forward received the ball from 20 yards. His low shot was spilled into the net by the keeper to double their lead.

Twenty minutes from time it was three. This time, Karpatalya earned a penalty which was calmly dispatched.

The Szekely fans turned the volume up in a bid to inspire their team, and the players responded. Two goals within 5 minutes – the second a beautiful strike from the edge of the area – suddenly made it 3-2.

Szekely Land put every man forward in a bid to restore parity, and went close twice, but struggled to fashion any clear-cut chance.

In committing men forward, it allowed Karpatalya to pick them off on the counter. With almost the last kick of the game, they extended their lead to 4-2 with a low finish.

There were great scenes at the final whistle as coaches and subs poured onto the pitch, in celebration at securing a place in Saturday’s final at Enfield.



Barawa - Panjab

Barawa 0-5 Panjab

An overcast Thursday afternoon provided the backdrop for the day’s second placement-round match between Barawa and Panjab in front of a crowd only a little bigger than that which watched the preceding game between Tuvalu and Tamil Eelam.

After an early stoppage caused by an injury to Panjab keeper Yousuf Butt, which fortunately turned out not to be as serious as first feared, Panjab went on the offensive and went in front after eight minutes, when Kamaljit Singh burst through the middle and put the ball into the bottom corner of the Barawa net, giving goalkeeper Calvin King no chance.

Both teams played attractive counter-attacking football during the first half-hour, with Barawa’s Dahir Ali and Panjab’s Kamaljit Singh starring as counter-attack followed counter-attack, but Panjab looked by far the more threatening of the two sides.

There was controversy after 26 minutes, when Barawa’s Simon Noel who, having gone on a fine run down the left flank, darted into the penalty area, where he was confronted by Panjab goalkeeper Yousuf Butt, who dived for the ball; Noel went over, was adjudged by referee Dave Murphy to have dived and was given a green card. This affected the already depleted Barawa squad still further, as he was replaced by the already injured Omar Sufi.

Kamaljit Singh’s daisy-cutter after half an hour went just the wrong side of the post, whilst Kamljit Singh only just failed to get his head on the end of an inviting cross from the right-hand side moments later. Barawa had their moments as the half neared its conclusion; a counter-attack resulted in Mohamed Bettamer getting on the end of a pass from midfield, but his shot was saved by Butt, a dangerous corner was palmed away with some difficulty, and Dahir Ali was a hair’s breadth from connecting with a Said Tahir cross as the first half came to an end.

The second half was just over a minute old when Nathan Minhas lobbed the exposed King from the left-hand angle of the penalty area to double Panjab’s lead; Omar Sufi almost pulled a goal back with a drive from the far left of the penalty area which fizzed just wide.

Panjab kept pressing as Barawa began to tire, and Kamaljit Singh scored his second after 65 minutes. Taimoor Hussain had the freedom of the Barawa box on the right but elected to shoot; King pulled off a fine save, but Singh showed a predator’s instinct to react quickly and bundle the ball over the line.

Eight minutes later, Singh made it four with a carbon-copy finish. Another raking run and cross-shot from Nikinder Uppal on the left was saved by King; the rebound fell to Singh, who put enough on the ball to send it trickling over the Barawa goal-line to grab his hat-trick.

Barawa made sporadic attacks during the remainder of the second half, with Bettamer unfortunately treading on the ball and losing possession when three Barawa players were faced with a lone defender just inside the Panjab half. And Omar Sufi drove in a fierce free-kick from distance which Butt only just managed to gather at the second attempt.

But Panjab were on top as the match came to a close. Taimoor Hussain put the ball high and wide after a scramble in the Barawa box, and Rajpal Virk brought out a fine flying fisted save from King. Singh scored his fourth and Panjab’s fifth with virtually the last kick of the ball, when he robbed Zakaria Bachi in the box and stroked it past a static King. Barawa played some neat football, but Panjab’s comprehensive victory was the perfect response to their 2-0 defeat by Padania on Tuesday.

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Cascadia - Western Armenia

Cascadia 4-0 Western Armenia

An on-pitch fracas saw Western Armenia reduced to ten men, but not before Cascadia had already taken control of the game, thanks to an energetic attacking frontline.

This scoreline might come as a surprise if you had only seen the first 20 minutes. Early on, Western Armenia displayed a very clear advantage when it came to discipline and experience. This translated into more possession and better chances, a fact that obviously frustrated the Cascadians, who kept making clumsy challenges in their attempts to win the ball.

But Cascadia made something from this: their first real chance came when the lively Hamza Haddadi – particularly potent on the left-wing in combination with Calum Ferguson – won the ball from a niggling challenge and shot straight at the goalkeeper.

Cascadia took the lead shortly afterwards, when goalkeeper Kasparov let Ferguson’s weak shot from outside the box roll past him.

After this, Cascadia took the initiative, switching roles with Western Armenia. They became increasingly flustered and aggressive, making a series of fouls.

Vahagn Militosyan was left isolated up front, unable to create any chances on his own, despite his best efforts.

Cascadia, meanwhile, were more relaxed. They doubled their lead shortly after half time, this time courtesy of substitute Max Oldham, before adding a third when Calum Ferguson chipped the ball over the waiting Kasparov.

Western Armenia’s frustration reached boiling point. After another bad challenge, the two teams clashed in the middle of the pitch, and Vicken Berberyan was given his marching orders, while Ferguson received a green card.

Cascadia needn’t have worried about the loss of their goalscorer; his replacement Yuri Farbas added a fourth goal, with Haddadi playing the part of creator once again.

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9th-12th PLACEMENT

Tibet - Kabylia

Tibet 1-8 Kabylia

The 9th – 12th place semi-final at Enfield Town FC’s Queen Elizabeth II Stadium today saw Tibet play Kabylia.

The two teams mingled in jollity and friendship off the field – but as soon they stepped over the touchline, it was obvious that this was going to be a battle.

Both teams started strongly, but Kabylia had the best of the opening exchanges with Sami Boudia coming close several times. However, Tibet started to grow into the game with a fair share of chances to break the deadlock.

With 25 minutes gone, though, it was Kabylia who got the first goal, with Boudia slotting past a flailing Tibetan goalkeeper to make it 1-0.

Five minutes later, Karma Tsewang was sent off for the Tibetans for foul play, a decision that threatened to halt their attacking onslaught. This wasn’t to be the case, though, and when Kalsang Topgyal was brought down in the area, he stepped up to convert the penalty and make it 1-1.

That wasn’t the end of the first half though, as just before the half-time whistle, Ilyas Hadid made it 2-1 to Kabylia.

The Tibetan team started the second half brightly, going close from a long-range effort by Topgyal but an ever-advancing Kabylia made it 3-1 through Enzo Meziab. Minutes later Meziab broke past the tiring Tibetan defence again to make it 4-1.

With the game all but over, Kabylia started to go from strength to strength with the lightning-quick Boudia getting two more to make it 6-1.

The Tibetan team weren’t in the mood to give up though, and kept attacking with Kabylia goalkeeper Murad Koulougli pulling off a string of spectacular saves to keep the Tibetans at bay.

The spirit and support of the passionate Tibetan fans couldn’t however stop Nadjim Bouabass getting a seventh, and Boudia rounding off the scoring with an eighth.

As the teams left the field, a victorious Kabylia team once again offered the hand of friendship by forming a guard of honour to applaud the exhausted Tibetans off the pitch.

This feast of football demonstrated the best of friendship and how football can unite those from across the globe. Both teams can look forward to one last chance to celebrate the beautiful game this Saturday.

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Abkhazia - United Koreans in Japan

Abkhazia 2-0 United Koreans in Japan

Though fairly evenly matched, United Korean profligacy saw the more physical Abkhazia emerge 2-0 winners in a pedestrian encounter at Bromley.

There was a low-key atmosphere at Hayes Lane, but Abkhazia’s loyal support came out once again, flags raised proudly.

Both sides seemed to lack energy and verve in the opening stages; United Koreans had the better of the possession, but poor passing and worse chance-creation meant they could do little with it.

After an uneventful 15 minutes, the flags lowered and energy levels dropped.

It took 25 minutes for Abkhazia to finally make a shot on target, when Akhvlediani set up Logua, whose shot was gathered easily by the goalkeeper.

Although the two teams were well-matched in discipline and technical ability, Abkhazia had a definite physical edge over the Koreans.

This began to show as Abkhazian players repeatedly muscled past the Korean defence, which finally rewarded them with a goal in the 39th minute. Logua and Akhvlediani combined again, setting up the latter to volley a shot past the clumsy Shim Woodae.

United Koreans of Japan dominated possession and chances in the second half, but poor finishing let them down time and again.

Lee Tongjun had plenty of energy, but his favourite trick – turning and shooting – didn’t trouble the Abkhazian goalkeeper, and his teammates regularly sent their efforts skyward or straight into Bondarenko’s hands.

They would rue their missed chances: somewhat against the run of play, Kogonya doubled Abkhazia’s lead after 78 minutes, slotting the ball past the hapless Shim.

Abkhazia were happy to hang on to this lead, and spent much of the next ten minutes playing for time. All the United Koreans of Japan could do is send more shots soaring over the crossbar.

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13th-16th PLACEMENT

Tamil Eelam - Tuvalu

Tamil Eelam 4-3 Tuvalu

Anyone within the crowd at the match between Tuvalu and Tamil Eelam who hadn’t taken their seats before kick-off may well have missed the first goal of the game, which was scored within the first three minutes by Tuvalu’s Taufaiva Ionatana after a ball played into the penalty area reached Sosene Vailine on the penalty spot. It got trapped between his feet but he was able to play it across to Alopua Petoa, who blasted the ball past Umaesh Sundralingham in the Tamil Eelam goal, much to the joy of the Tuvaluan squad, who had only scored once in the competition prior to today.

Tamil Eelam themselves were yet to score a goal in the World Football Cup, but that changed on seven minutes, when Johnath Chandran went on a powerful run down the left; he cut inside just outside the Tuvalu box, played the ball across to the unmarked Prashanth Ragavan, who beat Katepu Iosua with a crisp finish.

And, after 14 minutes, Tamil Eelam had two more good chances within seconds to take the lead; first, Gonas Paneerselvam hit the bar with a curling free-kick, and then Gvinthan Navaneethakrishnan almost bundled the ball over the line, but defender James Lepaio was on hand to clear the danger.

Three minutes later, Tamil Eelam were awarded a penalty after a clumsy challenge just inside the Tuvalu area; Paneerselvam took the kick, but to his frustration, Iosua dived to his right to save.
After Paneerselvam and Prashanth Ragavan combined to waste a promising counter-attack, it all went rather quiet for a period, until Navaneethakrishnan broke down the right-hand side, ran into the penalty area and put some venom into his shot, but Iosua saved with both knees and the ball went behind for a corner.

The second half started with Tuvalu on the attack; Tausau Lopati delivered a low shot from the right which Sundralingham did well to divert behind for a corner, and then headed the ball behind from the ensuing corner.

Tuvalu had the chance to take the lead on 50 minutes when Alopua was unceremoniously bundled over in the area, but Matti Uaelesi’s penalty was saved by Sundralingham, who also stopped his rebound.

But Uaelesi’s blushes were spared when Tuvalu took the lead after 55 minutes when Sosene Vailine was the recipient of a pass across the area, and he curled his shot low into the net past Sundralingham. Moments later, a melee broke out in midfield, which saw Tuvalu’s Ionatana green-carded and Tamil Eelam’s Johnath Chandran booked. Ionatana was replaced by Etimoni Timuani.

Tuvalu moved further ahead after 73 minutes after a run down the left and pass into the middle from Uaelesi were rewarded by a tap-in from Alopua Petoa, who got to the ball despite the attentions of a Tamil Eelam defender – and Tuvalu were almost home and dry.

Tamil Eelam ramped up the pressure in the closing stages as Tuvalu began to pull back towards their own goal, and the situation changed with nine minutes left, when Chelliah went on another run down the right, beat a defender and sent in a subtle pass to the onrushing Ragavan, who scored from close range. Four minutes of injury-time led to heartbreak for the Pacific islanders as first Ragavan equalised, rifling the ball to Iosua’s left from eight yards out after a ball across the box found him in space, and then Janothan Perananthan’s header looped outrageously over the stranded Iosua, bounced and then flew into the roof of the net to seal a memorable comeback for Tamil Eelam.

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Matabeleland - Chagos Islands (Friendly)

Matabeleland 1-0 Chagos Islands

Bruce Grobbelaar pulled on his goalkeeper’s gloves for one final time as he started for Matabeleland’s placement game against Chagos Islands at Aveley FC.

The 60 year old has been a goalkeeping coach for the African side during the tournament, but registered to play during the week.

Matabeleland had also auctioned two places in their squad to raise money for the side – with each winner playing for 15 minutes against the Chagos Islands.

It was a fantastic, friendly atmosphere at Aveley, with Bruce Grobbelaar in high spirits throughout.

The former Liverpool man came off after half an hour to rapturous applause as both sides played a good game of football in the Essex sun.

The decisive goal came on 60 minutes, with a terrific header into the top corner as all members of the Matabeleland coaching team got a run out.

We would like to thank Chagos Islands for stepping in at short notice and providing an entertaining game of football with a marvelous spirit.

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By Robin Toal

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