Thursday, 27 June 2013

Tynwald Hill Tournament – official preview

With no VIVA World Cup and only four teams contesting the Island Games the Tynwald Hill International Tournament will take the non-FIFA centre-stage this summer. Kicking off next week four N.F.-Board members, Occitania, Tamil Eelam, Raetia and Sealand, will be joined by Island Games Association side Alderney and Isle of Man Premier League side St Johns United in two groups of three.
Tynwald...big crowds are expected on the national day

The club side will host all matches at their Mullen-e-Cloie ground which has undergone significant developments, including a new suite and stand, just for the tournament. The Tynwald takes its name from a hill in the centre of St Johns where, once a year, the islanders celebrate the world’s oldest parliament by descending on the village to watch the isle’s legislature meet.

This national day of Manx culture takes places during the competition and co-organiser Malcolm Blackburn believes it will have a big effect on the crowds ‘I’d be hopeful of at least 2,000 fans coming for the matches on the day of the Tynwald celebrations’.
St Johns had initially tried to represent the island at the biennial Island Games in Bermuda this summer. The idea was dismissed by the Isle of Man FA and St Johns consequently got contacted by us about a potential tournament. 

Numerous N.F.-Board members will be on the island on the Saturday with a meeting arranged to confirm the future of the organisation, which looks set to shut down and rebrand with new leadership.
Narrow...Occitània exiting the 2012 VIVA against Kurdistan
For all the fixtures click here and for general information and ticket purchasing click here. Below is a look at each competing side. We’ll be providing extensive coverage from the competition.

Group A:

Occitània – After missing out on a semi-final place at the VIVA World Cup last summer on goal difference the Occitans start the Tynwald Hill Tournament as strong favourites to lift the trophy on July 7th. Led by the flair of captain Boris Massaré (who we interviewed here) the side are good keepers of the ball and have an experienced team. Massaré plays in the Danish Second Division for Kjellerup IF and is part of a strong midfield which includes Jordan Amiel and Bastien Cantier. 

Renaud Thomas of French fourth-tier US Le Pontet is important in defence and forward trio Guillaume Lafuente, Brice Martinez and Nicolas Flourens have scored 10 international goals in 15 games between them. Their mix of semi and ex-professionals will be camping at the stadium during the event with Massaré explaining “it will be good for team spirit and bonding”.

NFFU predicts – 1st.

Impact...Gunn (centre) after penalties win on Alderney
Sealand – After returning to the non-FIFA scene last summer and winning for the first time against Alderney in March the SNFA saw a slight reshuffle and a young side of mainly semi-professional and amateur players will travel to the Isle of Man. Scotland-based goalkeeper Thomas McIntosh can break the caps record at the competition after making two impressive performances against Alderney. Luke Wilson, who plays with Ryman League Aveley, will play a big role in defence where he’s joined by Brighton & Hove Albion coach Toby Loveland. 

Paul Beiboer is set to start in midfield with Ben Chick and Ken Hagan, semi-professionals and England University players, likely to carry much of the attacking threat. Defender Christian Gunn explained “it’s a really tough group but we feel we can make an impact”. The Seals will be coached by former West Ham and Liverpool defender Julian Dicks during the tournament.

NFFU predicts – 5th.

Tamil Eelam – The Asian side made their international debut at the 2012 VIVA World Cup and once again their squad is drawn from Tamil diaspora around the world. This summer sees players from no less than 9 countries called up by manager Ragesh Nambiar after trials across the world were held. The Tamils lost 7-0 to Occitània last summer but Nambiar feels this time around they will be improved “our tactics are different now and we will be more attacking”. 

Anthem...Tamil Eelam lineup before a VIVA World Cup game
Former AS Roma player Panushanth Kulenthiran will be the key man but there is talent throughout the squad. Menan Naugulendran is the record-scorer after netting a hat-trick against Raetia last summer and defender Sivaruban Sathiamoorthy plays at a good level in Germany, with JA Drancy midfielder Ragvan Prashanth another talented player. A number of fans are also expected to fly over to support the team.

NFFU predicts – 3rd.

Group B:

St Johns United – The only club side competing St Johns United finished 6th in the Isle of Man Premier Division last season. Managed by Isle of Man national team legend Nick Hurt the squad have been training intensively ahead of the tournament. 

Hurt has also been named as a midfielder in the squad along with the talented Krasimir Stoev, a former professional in Montenegro. Striker Stephen Glover will be the main source of goals for the hosts who are expected to be supported well by the Manx public. At 40 John Wriggley will be the oldest player at the tournament.
Chance...captain Lawrence against Sealand in March

NFFU predicts – 2nd.

Alderney - Alderney are members of the Island Games Association and competed for the second time in the most recent finals on the Isle of Wight in 2011. At that event they were outclassed by newly elected UEFA members Gibraltar, the hosts, Anglesey and the Falkland Islands. Captain Andy Lawrence, who turned down the opportunity to represent the island in Bermuda at golf to play, is looking forward to what he feels will be closer competition this summer ‘I’ve seen that Raetia are below us in the non-FIFA rankings so it’ll be nice to know we have a chance of winning’. 

We interviewed him here. Josh Concanen, a semi-professional with Southern League Tiverton Town, is one of three players not based on the island and brother Steve has represented Guernsey before. he experienced Jason Atkins is crucial in defence and veteran goalkeeper Paul Williams has come out of retirement. Injuries may take their toll on the team.

NFFU predicts – 6th

VIVA...Raetia celebrate a late win over Tamil Eelam
Raetia – The Swiss side won their first game at the 2012 VIVA World Cup, 1-0 over Tamil Eelam, but were comfortably beaten in other matches. A fine win away to Monaco last October was a commendable result and some talented players, such as FC Chur 97 forward Serkan Karamese and Mirko Oswald could star. Fabio Martins is arguably the main man in midfield and goalkeeper Ugur Sihyürek impressed on his debut against the Monegasque.

A strong defence will be marshalled by player-manager Alexandro Del Rio and joint record-caps holder Simone Fontana. FA Raetia secretary Yacine Azzouz told us “we are confident we can challenge every team at the finals". Likely to be greatly improved since last summer the Raetians could be dark-horses at the Tynwald. They will play fellow N.F.-Board side Saugeais on Saturday as part of the preparation and you can read our preview of that game here.

NFFU predicts – 4th

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Saugeais make non-FIFA debut as Raetia prepare for Tywnald Hill Tournament

A self-declared micronation based in eastern France Saugeais will play a non-FIFA game for the first time when they host Raetia on Saturday.  Based in the department of Doubs in Franche-Comté, near the Swiss border, the commune has a population of less than 4,500 and is the second micronational member of the N.F.-Board along with Sealand.

Debut...the first FSF game.
Despite joining the organisation in 2005 the self-claiming republic has never before played any other members. They took on a Franche-Comté representative team in the proclaimed capital Gilley in 2009 and lost 3-1 in front of an impressive 600 fans. Midfielder Arnaud Faivre-Pierret scored the goal that day and is expected to be involved against Raetia.

The majority of the squad play in the regional 12th-tier of French football with many drawn from the 2 clubs based in Saugeais, FC Gilley and La Saugette Sports. Maxime Guigon plays for the latter and will be the host’s main attacking hope. Both clubs have a pitch each in the north of Gilley which will be the venue for Saturday’s game.

Venue...the idyllic Stade du Gilley.
The visitors will be strong favourites as they look to build on their win in Monaco in October. The Raetians are using the game as preparation for the Tynwald Hill Tournament in July and many of that squad will feature on Saturday. Fabio Martins continues to be the key man for the Swiss side and, along with Fabrizio Daniele, Mirko Oswald and Silvan Tomaschett, is 1 goal from becoming the Raetia top-scorer.

Tomaschett scored on his debut against Monaco and the Raetian forwards should have too much for the hosts. Serkan Karamese, recently promoted to the Swiss 4th-tier with FC Chur 97, is likely to captain the side. The match kicks-off at 14:00 and we hope to provide a full report and exclusive photos.

NFFU predicts: Saugeais 0-3 Raetia

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Quebec stun Provence to claim fine win on non-FIFA debut

Last summer’s VIVA World Cup semi-finalists Provence suffered a shock defeat by non-FIFA debutants Québec this afternoon in the Tournoi des Cultures in Marseille. Despite going down early on to a Benjamin De Santi goal the North Americans game back strongly and equalised in the first half before scoring twice in the second period, including a stunning strike from Reda Agourram, to win 3-1.

Heat...the weather was a factor during the game.
The N.F.-Board side were favourites going into the game and took only 4 minutes to take the lead, ES Pennoise attacker Benjamin De Santi firing past Vincent Cournoyer for his first international goal. In the searing heat both sides played attractive football and the Quebecois were level just before the half-hour when John Durnick found Pascal Aoun who finished beyond the dive of Mickael Jobert. The hosts began to dominate but it was Jobert who was the most severely tested before the break when he did well to deny a powerful shot from Durnick.

After recharging at half-time Québec came out strongly for the second period and took the lead in the 48th minute when Reda Agourram, released by Montreal Impact last summer, sent a rocket into the back of the net from 30-yards out. The searing heat began to take it’s toll on the match as both teams tired. The visitors managed to seal the game with 10 minutes to go following a scramble in the box which was finally prodded home by Cedric Carrie. Nicolas Ferrero nearly pulled ago back from a free-kick in the 87th minute but it was too little too late, and the Quebecois held on for a famous win.
Opener...Pascal Aoun.

After the game Provence manager Phillipe Burgio said “Québec have a great team. Our second half was much better than the 1st but they win”. With the two teams the only full non-FIFA sides in the competition then another ‘A’ game could happen should they both win or lose their respective semi-finals, which are set for Thursday.

Match information –

Score: Provence 1-3 Québec

Goals: Provence – De Santi 4’. Québec – Aoun 28’ Agourram 48’ Carrie 80’

Provence: Jobert; Samat, Barnel, Chrétien, Camatte; Bouchrouche, Savino; De Santi, Ferrero, Mdahoma; Copel.

Québec: Cournoyer; Lassonde, Chan-Yu-Tin, Leduc, Suprenant; Cossette, Durnick; Aoun, Babineau [Bessé 82’], Carrie; Agourram.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Québec to make debut in Tournoi des Cultures et Peoples

History-makers...the 1st ever Québec team.
After several months of speculation as the competing sides the mysterious Tournoi des Cultures et Peoples, being staged by the Provence FA, will see 1 full non-FIFA game. After successfully raising enough money the new representative side of Québec will travel to Europe for their 1st ever games. The North Americans will meet the hosts Provence in a group B game tomorrow.

Several sides, such as Northern Cyprus and Monaco, were said to be entering and 6 teams have come together despite Nagaland and Ladakh both dropping out on the eve of the opening day. The event is part of the Marseille city councils 2013 Capital of Culture title celebrations.

Group A kicked off on Sunday with French amateur side UGA Ardziv, Kurdistan B and a Western Saharans in Spain team drawn together. The latter startlingly lost 17-3 to Ardziv in the first game, demonstrating an apparant lack of equality in the poorly-promoted event. The VIVA World Cup holders Kurdistan named just 2 players who featured in their glory last summer. Group B features a European Tibetan team, the Québécois and hosts.
Favourites...hosts Provence.

Philippe Burgio has named a strong squad for the tournament as Provence look to kick on from a fine 2012 VIVA World Cup display and a 6-1 thrashing of Monaco in February. Brahim Zénafi scored 5 goals at that VIVA and is on form after hitting a winner in a friendly against CFA side FC Sète last month. 

Christophe Copel and Yanis Abbes are also named along with Romain Campagna, who scored his 1st Provence goal in the game against Monaco. Christopher Bosselet remains in goal and FC Mulhouse defender Cédric Camatte will captain the side. The difference in class was apparant from day one when they thrashed the Tibetan team 22-0.

Former Canada international and player Patrick Leduc was appointed as manager of the new Québec team and has named a squad roughly based around the fact American and Canadian clubs are in the middle of their seasons. Midfielder Kevin Cossette from the academy side of MLS club Montreal Impact have been called up, along with former Impact strikers Jean-Louis Bessé and Reda Agourram.  Bessé is 1 of 6 squad members currently playing in the Première Ligue de soccer du Québec. France-based defender Cédric Joqueviel, once with Montpellier, been selected along with retired striker Nicolas Lesage.

Goal threat...young striker Agourram.
The North Americans will open up against the Tibetan team before taking on the the hosts and favourites. Co-founder of the team Yannick Saint-Germain has described playing in France for the 1st time as ‘a dream come true’ despite admitted odd organisation and claims from the hosts. They also thrashed the Tibetans today, winning 21-0. The Provence game kicks-off at 15:00 local time and will see Québec enter the non-FIFA rankings as a result.

NFFU predicts: Provence 3-1 Québec

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Martinique announce strong Gold Cup squad

On form...striker Parsemain will play a key role.
Martinique have named their 23-man squad for July’s CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign in the United States. The dangerous striking trio of Steeve Gustan, Frédéric Piquionne and Kévin Parsemain have been named in the squad with Notts County forward Yoann Arquin adding to a powerful attack. A number of uncapped players have also been selected. 

Les Matinino secured qualification by reaching the last 4 of the Caribbean Cup in December. Parsemain was on fire in that competition netting twice in the finals in Antigua & Barbuda as well as an incredible 11 in 3 as the island topped their qualification group. Bordeaux goalkeeper Kévin Olimpa, who was only allowed time off from the Ligue 1 club to play in the group-stages of the Caribbean Cup, has also been included.

Uncapped...Gijón player Arnolin.
The defence features 3 uncapped players including 2 who are based in Spain. Grégory Arnolin of La Liga side Sporting Gijón and AD Alcorcón’s Jean-Sylvain Babin have been named for the first time as well as Audrick Linord who plays in France. Home-based Nicolas Zaire and Paris FC midfielder Gaël Germany, key figures last year, has also been chosen my coach Patrick Cavelan. Le Mans winger Olivier Thomert is also called up.

The Caribbean side, at the finals for the 4th time, open up group A with a game against Canada in Pasadena. They then meet Panama in Seattle before finishing off against holders Mexico in Denver.

First half goals secure Monaco win against Vatican City

Principality...the Monaco team before the anthems.
With Prince Albert II watching Monaco kept a clean sheet for only the third time as they ran out 2-0 winners against the Vatican City in Cap d’Ail on Saturday. First-half goals from Morgan Escarras and veteran striker Eric Fissore secured only a second win since 2006 for the Monégasque and meant that after the Vatican’s third international the world’s smallest country is still without a victory.

After impressing with Monaco second-tier champions SBM Slot Machines last season Escarras was called into the national team for the first time and capped his debut with a goal. After collecting a pass on his chest from left-back Kévin Santini the 21-year old kept his cool to volley the ball home with 9 minutes played. The hosts struggled to impose themselves in the searing heat but extended their lead 24 minutes later.

Visitors...the Vatican left Rome for the first time.
33-year old Fissore, an ever-present with the national team since their maiden game against Tibet in 2001, scored to cap off a fine season during which he won the Challenge Prince Rainier III Cup with his club Sun Casino. Escarras turned creator as he collected the ball in midfield and from 30-yards executed a fine through-ball to the onrushing Fissore, who made no mistake finishing past Damiano Bartozzi. After making several changes in the second half the game petered out in the sweltering conditions.

After the match Escarras told us “I’m very happy to score in this game because it was difficult in the heat and to win in front of the Prince of Monaco thanks in part to this goal is very satisfying”. Monaco have expressed a desire in competing at the 2014 VIVA World Cup and will likely play again in the year ahead. Click here for exclusive photos.

Match information

Score: Monaco 2-0 Vatican City

Goals: Morgan Escarras 9’ Eric Fissore 34’

Monaco: Julien [Di Franco 46’]; Santini, Janel, Beltrandi, Dioury; Escarras [? 57’], Hebert, Landau, Armita; Fissore [El Missouri 65’], Sabatel.

Vatican City: Bartozzi; Rimauro, Grillone, Mayer, Pietropaolo; Troiani, Cataldo, Perinellie, Batalocco; Gaudio, Carilli.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Saaremaa snatch derby victory at the death

A 96th-minute penalty from FC Kuressaare striker Elari Valmas saw Saaremaa snatch a dramatic late win away to neighbours Hiuumaa on Friday. The visitors beat their rivals for the 3rd game in a row and extended their good form to 1 loss in their last 6 matches.
Hero...Valmas hit the winner.

In glorious sunshine in front of 140 people a closely contested match saw its turning point at the death when Martti Puuk, the hosts best player, gave away a penalty. Puuk represents Saaremaa in the Island Games but plays for his home island in these matches, but he made the impact at the wrong end of the field late on.

Elari Valmas held his nerve to beat Kärdla LM goalkeeper Gustav Kotkas and win the game. The goal was the 24-year old's 3rd for Saaremaa after he scored against both the Åland Islands and the Western Isles at the 2011 Island Games.

It’s likely both sides will play again next summer. Saaremaa haven’t entered the Island Games, to be held in Bermuda this July, for the 1st time since 1999.

Match information

Score: Hiiumaa 0-1 Saaremaa

Goals: Elari Valmas 90+6 (P)

Hiiumaa: Kotkas; Johanson, Kelder, Kutser, Erk [Riik 46'[Laur 76']]; Lõppe, Kastein [Kaasik 46'], Lips [Tärnu 82'], Tähiste [Linkov 78']; Linkov, Pukk.

Saaremaa: Nurmik; Viira [Mai 57'], Rajaver [Mägi 72'] Kluge [Saar 62'], Jaanis Kriska; Rajaver, Luup, Seeman, Mere; Valmas, Laht [Mölder 68'].

Friday, 21 June 2013

CSANF announce plans for second South American competition

The N.F.-Board's South American governing body CSANF have announced a preliminary date for the second Indigenous Peoples' Championship. Today vice-president Gonzalo Domarchi stated that the Chilean capital Santiago would host the tournament again from August 5th-10th.

The teams that CSANF have said are hoped to compete are Easter Island, Mapuche, Aymara, Likan-Antay, Diaguita, Kolla, Quechua and a combined Yaghan-Kawésqar team. The 2012 edition saw 6 teams play, among them Easter Island, Mapuche, Aymara and Likan-Antay. The 2013 edition will be split into 2 groups of 4.

Easter Island are the holders after they defeated Mapuche 4-2 on penalties at the Estadio Bicentenario de La Florida following a 2-2 draw. The tournament caters for the plethora of different languages and tribes based in the football loving continent. 

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Baltic Sea derby and meeting of Europe’s two smallest nations to kick-off a summer of non-FIFA football

Two old rivalries will be played out this weekend as a busy summer of non-FIFA football gets underway on Friday. Firstly Island Games competitors Saaremaa travel to neighbours Hiiumaa as the Estonian islands continue the revival of a formerly annual match. The next day in traditionally warmer climes Monaco meet the mysterious national side of the Vatican City, who’ll play an international for only the 3rd time.

Hiiumaa vs. Saaremaa
Derby...the sides line up before the 2011 meeting.

With a population of less than 10,000 Hiiumaa will always be the underdogs against Saaremaa, who have around 40,000 people living on the island. The latter are members of the Island Games Association and thus compete against the likes of Gibraltar, Jersey and Greenland every 2 years which offers them valuable experience. In the most recent event in 2011 they matched their best-ever finish of 6th to cap off a considerable turnaround in form after a dreadful 8 game losing run prior to those games.

Simply being registered to a club on the island is all that’s required for eligibility but most players are home-grown and play for the islands main side FC Kuressaare, who play in the Estonian top-flight. This results in a generally competitive Saaremaa island side put interestingly their finest player over the past few years, Martti Puuk, hails from Hiiumaa. With 5 goals he is Saaremaa’s all-time leading scorer but as he is from Hiiumaa, and only registered to a club on the larger island, he plays these fixtures for the place of his birth.
Key man...Martti Puuk

Puuk netted the only goal in a 3-1 away loss last summer but the game the year before was far tighter, with the visiting Saaremaa lucky to leave with a 1-0 win. Märt Kluge hit the winner that day and the defender also bagged in the 2012 game. Hiiumaa’s last win was over 15 years ago in 1997 when they claimed a fine 2-0 away scalp.

Remarkably the sides met on a boat in a 6 a-side game earlier this year and it will be the visitors who will once again be favourites, and with no Island Games trip to Bermuda this summer they will be even more focused on continuing their recent run of victories over their rivals.

NFFU predicts: Hiiumaa 1-2 Saaremaa

Monaco vs. Vatican City

Victors...Monaco celebrate their 2011 win in Rome. 
By their recent standards Monaco have had a fairly busy 2012-13 with games against N.F.-Board sides Raetia (1-2) and Provence (1-6). The announcement of a game in their traditional ‘home’ ground of Cap d’Ail against the Vatican game only recently but the Monegasque will be confident of only a second win since 2006.

The sides have met each other twice before, most recently in 2011 when Monaco record-scorer Olivier Lechner netted a brace to help his side to a 2-1 win in Rome. Lechner has bagged 7 in his last 9 games for Monaco but will miss the match on Saturday whilst he recovers from knee surgery a month ago.

The same squad that lost to Provence in February is likely to feature with captain Olivier El Missouri possibly playing a more forward role in Lechner’s absence. El Missouri played in the 2011 fixture and told us “to score 3 goals against them would be nice but if not we will take the same score..we have a  different squad to 2011but a similar level”.

Rare...a photo of the Vatican team, taken in 2011.
Little is known about the Vatican national side other than the scores of their 2 internationals against Monaco, and even the 0-0 in 2002 is disputed. They travel for an away game for the first time which could be the sign of a new outlook among the footballing powers within the microstate. The domestic championship, played on Monday nights at  Pontificio Oratorio di San Pietro leisure centre, recently concluded.

The champions Dirseco provide the Vatican’s most dangerous player, and the only person to score for the tiny nation, Alessando Quarto. A shop-worker in the Holy See when not playing football the left-footed striker will be the most likely to trouble Monaco goalkeeper Maxime Julien. The fixture will hopefully see the start of a more active Vatican side.

NFFU predicts: Monaco 2-0 Vatican City

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Gibraltar feel Spanish wrath after under-20 cancellation

Less than 3 weeks after being voted in as the 54th UEFA member Gibraltar have already clashed with Spain after a scheduled under-20 match against Cuba last weekend was cancelled following pressure from the Spanish government.

Disputed...the VIctoria Stadium
After the GFA initially stated that hiked costs of stadium rent in Marbella were the reason for the cancellation it has emerged in the Spanish press that the government put pressure on the owners to stop the game from happening.

The Cubans, in Europe as they prepare for their maiden under-20 World Cup in Turkey this weekend, were denied visas by the UK government when the idea of playing the game in Gibraltar arose. Both sides were left without a match after the Marbella landlords suddenly raised the price. It's now being suggested by parts of the media in Spain that the Spanish government were the reason behind this.

The debacle raises the question as to what lengths Spain will go to in an attempt to block the GFA’s route into FIFA, which according to their own rules is allowed after 2 years of UEFA membership.

The colony’s only ground is on disputed land and journalist James Montague, who spent time in Gibraltar with the GFA before their UEFA bid, explained that a new stadium will be built before FIFA membership is pursued “I was told that FIFA looked at every reason not to allow Gib in, and that was what they found”.

The under-16 team are currently experiencing less political difficulty in a UEFA tournament in Albania. They lost their opening game 4-0 to Luxembourg.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Community of Madrid set for first international against Andalusia of many around Madrid
Two Spanish autonomous communities go head to head at Rayo Vallecano’s Vallecas ground on Friday night with the Community of Madrid making their non-FIFA debut against Andalusia in a game that will feature plenty of La Liga stars. 

The Federación de Fútbol de Madrid are celebrating their centenary year and as a result have created a representative time, much like Catalonia and the Basque Country have, to take on the Andalusians in a one-off friendly.

Luis Aragonés, manager of the victorious Spanish side at the 2008 European Championships, will take charge of the hosts alongside FFM technical secretary Fernando Zambrano. The pair named their squad after the final round of La Liga games last weekend and have a strong group of players at their disposal.

Bosses...Aragonés and Zambrano announce the squad
They also had to take into consideration which players have been chosen by Vicente Del Bosque to represent Spain in the upcoming friendlies and the Confederations Cup- this means Fernando Torres and Iker Casillas miss out. 

Atlético Madrid player Juanfran, part of the Euro 2012 Spain squad, has been named as one of the defenders alongside former teammate Álvaro Domínguez who is currently at Borussia Mönchengladbach. Alejandro Arribas is also expected to feature in the back 4 with Rayo Vallecano stopper David Cobeño set to share the number one jersey with the now retied Ricardo. 

Icon...ex Real Madrid man Guti
Ex-Real Madrid favourite Guti will likely start the game in midfield along with Víctor Pérez of Vallodolid. Julio Álvarez, who has caps for Venezuela, could also feature. Deportivo La Coruña icon Riki top-scored for the recently relegated club with 13 goals and will be favourite to start in attack.

The number of recognisable names in the home squad is greatly overshadowed by Andalusia’s, however. Manager Adolfo Adana oversaw a 4-1 thrashing of Zambia in his first game way back in 2007 and the big names in his squad suggests goals will not be hard to come by again on Friday.'s been 6 years since Andalusia last played
Joaquín, one of the stars of Málaga’s fine Champions League run last term, heads the list of skilled attackers with Sporting Lisbon wide-man Diego Capel and Sevilla forward José Antonio Reyes all called up. With 69 caps for Spain Carlos Marchena will be an experienced head in defence - Javi Varas, who spent last season with Celta Vigo, is set to start in goal. 

The FFM are hoping for a sell-out at the Vallecas with a kick-off scheduled for 20:00 local time (19:00 UK). The organisers have also stressed that the visiting team could suffer some withdrawals but they are not expected any. Perhaps some would help the seemingly weaker hosts in what could prove an intriguing start to Madrid’s representative football team.