WORLD FOOTBALL CUP FINAL
Karpatalya - Northern Cyprus
Karpatalya 0 (3)-(2) 0 Northern Cyprus
There was a lively, celebratory atmosphere at Enfield’s evocative Art Deco ground. Fans were assembling on the grassy banks surrounding the stadium in spite of the June drizzle, eager to get a glimpse of this most unique of finals.
Or perhaps they were perched there to avoid the Karpatalyan fans, who let off a steady stream of flares, coloured in the red-white-green of the Hungarian flag. Northern Cyprus had their own response: their kit man, his hair dyed in the national colours, ran around the pitch, goading the massed Karpatalyan ranks.
The two sides had already met in the group stage, playing out a 1-1 draw that gave us no clues for the final. What we did know is that Karpatalya had been shorn of goalscorers Zsolt Gajdos and György Sándor through injury, who had helped them past Abkhazia and Cascadia earlier in the tournament. Northern Cyprus, meanwhile, had a full-strength team to call upon.
The final started as many do: cagey and reserved, with plenty of clumsy challenges – mostly from Northern Cyprus – and few clear-cut chances. Mark Clattenburg, taking time out from his retirement to officiate the final, kept the game flowing.
Karpatalya started the better team. Their robust defence soaked up Northern Cypriot pressure, but they failed to produce a chance of their own until ten minutes in, when Milan Laszik glanced a powerful header narrowly wide.
After this, Northern Cyprus seized the initiative, with the lively Yasin Kurt troubling the Karpatalyan defence. Kurt used his pace to cut in from the right, threading incisive through balls towards striker Tansel Ekingen. Ekingen made little of these chances, outmuscled by the likes of Alex Svedjuk.
Kurt had his own chances, and it took Svedjuk again to deny him a shot from one of his marauding runs into the box.
But it was Karpatalya who had the best chances of the half. A Gergely Gyurki corner was barely scrambled away by the defence, and shortly afterwards Istvan Sandor sent a brave long-distance effort just over the crossbar – a good effort, but not enough to trouble the scoreline.
The two teams were clearly suffering under the weight of the occasion. Northern Cyprus were robust, but were unable to use that strength to muscle past the more skillful Karpatalyans. For all that skill, though, their own attempts were confined to Istvan Sandor hitting-and-hoping.
Kenan Oshan was brought on just past the hour to provide Northern Cyprus’ attacks with more impetus. The wasteful Ekingen was switched out later, and it was the introduction of Arif Uysal that provided the Northern Cypriots with a much-needed burst of energy.
This was too much for the tiring Karpatalyans. Usal and Gajri Kiral, surging down the wings, created a slew of excellent chances.
But Billy Mehmet struggled to cover these chances: latching on to a cross from Unal Kaya, Mehmet slammed his shot into the crossbar, before Halil Turan put a header inches wide after more good creative work by Uysal. Uysal himself called for a penalty after falling in the box, but Mark Clattenburg wasn’t interested.
Northern Cyprus came alive too late. They would rue these final wasted chances, and the match would have to be decided by the dreaded penalty shoot-out – the pouring rain giving it an added sense of foreboding.
Two poorly taken penalties by Billy Mehmet and Yasin Kurt gave Karpatalya the advantage. They nearly wasted this, sending one of their shots against the post, before a heroic save from Bela Fejer denied Halil Turan, ensuring Alex Svedjuk’s penalty was the winner.
Torrential rain did nothing to dampen the Karpatalya celebrations, as their flag-bearing players ran towards their loyal support, and towards their richly deserved trophy.
Padania - Székely Land
Padania 0 (5)-(4) 0 Székely Land
Padania sealed third place at the CONIFA Paddy Power World Football Cup with a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Székely Land.
The Hungarian fans, with their flare displays and singing, provided the best entertainment of the afternoon in a drab encounter in Enfield.
Padania were the favourites, having won the Group C encounter between the sides 3-1 six days previously.
The game began slowly, which was perhaps unsurprising given the amount of football played by the sides over the previous nine days.
Laszlo Szocs was a threat for Székely Land, as they had the best of the early running. He drilled wide following a mazy run and blazed over moments later with the goal at his mercy.
Much of Padania’s good work came through playmaker Giacomo Innocenti, who caused constant problems on the left-hand side, shooting straight at the keeper and attempting an audacious chip, which was easily saved.
Szilard Magyari couldn’t keep his shot on target just before half-time, after Padania’s defence failed to clear.
As the second half wore on, it always looked destined to end goalless, as players tired and became less accurate in their passing. Half-chances came and went for Riccardo Ravasi of Padania and Szocs of Székely Land, who struck just wide after a promising run.
Both teams appeared to accept that penalties would decide the encounter, and so this proved.
Székely Land took the lead in the shootout when William Rosset’s penalty for Padania was saved. However, Szocs missed his chance to win it for his side, and Padania keeper Marco Murriero became the hero, saving from Balazs Csiszer to end the tournament on a high note for the Italians.
The Székely Land fans remained in good voice after the full-time whistle, with a great atmosphere at the ground preceding the grand final.
Photo Gallery coming soon
Panjab - Cascadia
Panjab 3 (4)-(3) 3 Cascadia
Cascadia came within an inch of a stunning turnaround, but couldn’t do enough to avoid penalties as Panjab came through to claim fifth place.
Rajpal Virk put Panjab ahead early with a well-taken goal, before Nathan Minhas added two more in quick succession.
Cascadia got their first taste of hope just before half time, thanks to Hector Morales.
Calum Ferguson was the hero of the second half, completing the comeback with two goals in under 10 minutes.
Cascadian spirits were raised – but they were unable to find a winner and Panjab held on to take the match to penalties.
Both teams looked nervous, and the first four penalties were poorly taken. But Panjab finally rediscovered the character they lost with their three-goal lead, and held their nerve to emerge victors.
Photo Gallery coming soon
Barawa - Western Armenia
Barawa 0-7 Western Armenia
Western Armenia finished their CONIFA Paddy Power World Football Cup in style as they overturned Barawa 7-0 at Parkside.
It was an open affair at Aveley, as Western Armenia scored three crisp first-half goals to set the tempo.
A Barawa side weakened by injury were commendable in their approach and fashioned a few half-chances throughout the game.
Western Armenia had the Midas touch in front of goal, however, scoring a further four second-half goals to put the game beyond Barawa.
The result means Barawa finish in eighth place, whilst Western Armenia finish seventh in the CONIFA World Football Cup.