Saturday, 30 November 2013

Zanzibar hopes in the balance after Ethiopia defeat

Zanzibar's first meeting with Ethiopia in 6 years ended disappointingly as the FIFA side claimed a 3-1 win on group A's second match day of the 2013 CECAFA Cup to leave the islanders hopes of quarter-final qualification in the balance.

Defeated...Zanzibar have work to do in group A
After making the perfect start in their opening game Zanzibar made the worst possible one here with Fasika Asfan getting on the end of Shimekti Gogsa's right-hand cross to give the Ethiopians an early lead.

Things got worse for the islanders when key midfielder Suleiman Kassim limped off in the 16th minute although 10 minutes later Dereje Alemu was called into action as he turned away Adeyum Saleh's effort. 

Any hope Zanzibar had of a first-half comeback were ended when, in the 36th minute, Mohamaed Khatib upended Fantu in the box and 19-year old Saladin Bragecho coolly converted the penalty. 

Wazir Omar and Ali Badru both went close as the non-FIFA side exerted some pressure before the break but they went in at half time 2 behind.

Fantu missed a couple of openings in the second period but the game sprung into life in the 68th minute when substitute Seif Rashid crossed for Awadh Juma Issa who headed a goal back for Zanzibar.

Gogsa hit the post for Ethiopia with 10 minutes to go as the game opened up late on and substitute Yonatan Kebede extinguished Zanzibar hopes in the 83rd minute when he did headed home his own rebound to make it 3-1.

Zanzibar meet hosts Kenya in their last group game at 16:00 (13:00 UK) on Tuesday. Juma's goal today could yet prove crucial in determining whether the non-FIFA side can make the quarter-finals as one of the best 3rd-placed teams.

Match information -

Score: Ethiopia 3-1 Zanzibar

Goals: Ethiopia - Fasika Asfan 5', Saladin Bragecho 37' (pen), Yonatan Kebede 83'. Zanzibar - Awadh Juma Issa 68'.

Zanzibar XI: A. Rashid; Bakari, Wazir, Rajab, Khatib; Makame, Kassim [S. Rashid 16'], Ali [Othman 88'], Juma; Adeyum [Mohd 87']; Badru. 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Zanzibar win CECAFA Cup opener after announcing new FIFA intentions

Zanzibar made a solid beginning to their 2013 CECAFA Cup campaign with a 2-1 victory over South Sudan in Nairobi earlier today after announcing new plans to join FIFA.
Anthems...Zanzibar (in blue) before the match.

The non-FIFA side made the perfect start in Nairobi when a cross from the left channel was misjudged by goalkeeper Jumma Genaro and 29-year old midfielder Suleiman Kassim was on hand to knock the ball into the unguarded net.

Kassim’s last Zanzibar goals came at the 2012 VIVA World Cup where he scored against Raetia and Provence and the non-FIFA side continued to control possession in midfield after the opener.

FIFA’s newest members were looking threatening on the counter attack however and began to dominate play before half time. Despite this they failed to test Rashid Abdalla and Zanzibar went in at the break with their slender lead.

South Sudan continued to dominate after the break and in the 51st minute Khamis Leyano was twice denied by Rashid with headed efforts. The pressure continued and 2 minutes later striker Jacob Osulu nodded narrowly wide.

Zanzibar managed to weather the storm and in the 67th minute they doubled the lead when substitute Adeyum Saleh Ahmed fired a volley first-time beyond the dive of Genaro.

However the islanders took their foot of the gas and just 5 minutes later South Sudan were back in the game. Another substitute, debutant Fabiano Lako, took advantage of some slack defending to half the deficit. was a close finale.
The goal was their first at the CECAFA Cup but they failed to seriously trouble Rashid in the latter stages as the non-FIFA side held on for a crucial 3 points.

The win comes the day after the Zanzibar Football Association announced plans to separate from the Tanzanian Football Federation with Steve Menary publishing this story

According to Menary a senior ZFA figure stated “we have new facts to prove to FIFA that inside Tanzania we have two separate football entities" despite the island receiving funding from the TFF to the tune of 5 million Tanzanian Shillings for travel to the CECAFA Cup.

Zanzibar take on Ethiopia next in group A meeting the Walias at 14:00 (11:00 UK) on Saturday.

Match information -

Score: Zanzibar 2-1 South Sudan

Goals: Zanzibar - Suleiman Abdi Kassim 5’, Adeyum Saleh Ahmed 67'. South Sudan - Fabiano Lako 74'

Zanzibar XI: Rashid; Bakari [Mkanga 78'], Wazir, Rajab, Khatib; Makame, Kassim, Ali, Juma; Mcha [Mohd 44' [[Saleh 62']]; Badru. 

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Zanzibar aiming for more heroics in 2013 CECAFA Cup

Zanzibar will travel to Kenya for the annual CECAFA Cup next week where they will meet the hosts, Ethiopia and South Sudan in a potentially tight group A.

Goalscorer..Mcha celebrates against Rwanda last year
Last year the non-FIFA side shocked the region to finish 3rd, seeing off mainland rivals Tanzania in the bronze medal match. Despite the unexpected nature of their performances last year Zanzibar are generally competitive at the CECAFA Cup and have reached the knockout stages at the last 4 finals.

The penalty shootout win over Tanzania in Uganda was their 3rd ever 3rd place finish and the core of that squad will be aiming for more heroics in Kenya. Striker Khamis Mcha scored 3 goals at last year’s finals and has 10 goals in his last 10 Zanzibar outings, including 7 at the 2012 VIVA World Cup.

The CAF associate members can also call up Zanzibari’s who play their FIFA international football, such as World Cup qualifiers, for Tanzania and thus include experienced defenders Aggrey Morris and Nadir Haroub in the team. The Tanzania Premier Leauge have given the Zanzibar FA 5 million Tanzanian shillings to assist with costs for this years trip to Kenya.

Masoud Nassor is an important player in the middle of the park and goalkeeper Ali Mwadini kept 2 clean sheets in Uganda last year. They have been drawn in a fairly tough group and the opening game against FIFA new boys South Sudan will likely play a big role in any Zanzibari progression.

We’ll be providing updates and reports from the tournament and you can check out a full CECAFA Cup preview for Sandals for Goalposts here. Zanzibar’s full group schedule is below.

27th November, Nyayo – Zanzibar vs South Sudan – 14:00 (17:00 UK)
30th November, Nyayo – Ethiopia vs Zanzibar – 14:00 (17:00 UK)
3rd December, Machakos – Kenya vs Zanzibar – 16:00 (19:00 UK) 

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Catalonia and Basque Country announce festive friendlies

Catalonia and the Basque Country have confirmed their traditional festive friendlies for 2013 with the autonomous regions hosting Cape Verde and Peru respectively.

Friendly...the Basques and Catalans met in 2007
The Catalans will take on the African side, who reached the quarter-finals of the 2013 African Cup of Nations, at the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys in Barcelona with a 19:00 kick off on December 30th.

The Federació Catalana de Futbol have chosen African opposition for the second game running, after drawing 1-1 with Nigeria in January, having stating that it was "impossible for logistical reasons" to play a South American or European team.

Basque Country will play for the first time at the new San Mamés after the home of Athletic Bilbao was opened in September. The visit of Peru on December 28th will mean the Basques will face a CONMEBOL side in successive years for the first time after they thrashed Bolivia 6-1 last December.

Both teams will be expected to include big name players in their squad. Barcelona stars Cesc Fàbregas, Xavi and Gerard Piqué will be among those likely to be included in the Catalonia team with Fernando Llorente, Javi Martínez and Xabi Alonso all having previously turned out for Basque Country.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Historic draw for Gibraltar in first UEFA game

Gibraltar produced a memorable performance to claim an historic draw with Slovakia in their first game as UEFA members in Portugal tonight. Despite creating numerous openings the 2010 World Cup qualifiers failed to score and Gibraltar gained a result which was just reward for their valiant defensive effort and composed play.

Heroes...Gibraltar before kick off
Unsurprisingly Slovakia dominated the opening exchanges but it was Gibraltar who, cheered on by 400 noisy fans, created the first opportunity in the 9th minute. A flowing move resulted in Jeremy Lopez releasing Adam Priestley who saw his deflected shot saved by Tomáš Košický.

2 minutes later Slovakia nearly opened the scoring when Freiburg midfielder Karim Guédé was given too much space in the box but Joran Perez saved well with his feet. The non-FIFA side went straight up the other end and after Priestley was fouled Liam Walker forced Košický into another save from the free kick.

The Slovakians dominated the rest of the half with Viktor Pečovský firing over in the 36th minute before Daniel Duarte headed a Jakub Sylvestr effort off the line. Despite the pressure Gibraltar stood firm and went in all square at the break.

The Slovakia pressure continued in the second half with captain Stanislav Šesták heading wide in the 55th minute. Pavol Farkaš tested Perez 5 minutes later before David Depetris curled a long-range effort narrowly wide. 

In the 81st minute Šesták came even closer when he volleyed towards goal from close range but once again Perez was equal to the effort. With 2 minutes to go the Lincoln stopper did well to deny Guédé. 

Veteran striker Al Greene had a chance to claim a sensational winner in the 89th minute but he fired over. Hearts were in mouths as Guédé rattled the bar in stoppage time after a corner but in the end Gibraltar hung on for a memorable draw and clean sheet.

Our exclusive gallery will be available on our Facebook page soon. Gibraltar are next in action in March when they host the Faroe Islands.

Match information -

Score: Gibraltar 0-0 Slovakia

Gibraltar XI: Perez; R. Chipolina (c), Wiseman, Higginbotham, J. Chipolina; R. Casciaro, Walker, Duarte [K. Casciaro 56’], Guilling [Sergeant 66’], Lopez [Bado 46’]; Priestley [Greene 66’].

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Bonaire stun Aruba with second half comeback to claim bronze

A spirited performance saw Bonaire finish third at the 2013 ABCS Tournament after they won in normal time for only the second time in their history against Aruba yesterday. Two second half goals in 3 minutes from Ilfred Piar and Suehendley Barzey meant the non-FIFA side men upset the odds to conclude a fine campaign.

Solid...Bonaire defend and Aruba attack
Aruba won the event last year with Bonaire finishing a distant last and the FIFA side were favourites heading into the game. However in an even opening half few chances were carved out by either side, until Aruba took the lead just before the break.

A cross from the right channel was somewhat misjudged by Rugenio Josephia and veteran striker Maurice Escalona stooped to head home his 4th international goal.

Manager Rudsel Sint Jago made a triple substitution in midfield in the 66th minute and the decision had an immediate effect as Bonaire began to dominate play. Ramiro Coffie’s long-ball started life as a clearance but a slip in the Aruba defence allowed substitute Ilfred Piar to take one touch before firing past Eric Abdul.

Leader...Bonaire captain Rolando Janzen
The goal was Piar’s second for Bonaire and the shock turnaround was complete just 2 minutes later. On the back foot again the Aruba defence made another mistake which allowed Suehendley Barzey in. Barzey’s goal in the playoff final helped his club SV Juventus to the Bonaire title last month and he coolly finished beyond Abdul to make it 2-1.

Aruba pressed for an equaliser and Bonaire’s job was made harder when Real Rincon defender Igmard Gijsbertha received a second yellow card in the 83rd minute but they hung on for a memorable win. 

Over the two games the new CONCACAF associate members demonstrated that they are ready to mix it with the rest of the Caribbean. This may happen soon – the 2014 Caribbean Cup draw takes place next month.

Match information -

Score: Bonaire 2-1 Aruba

Goals: Bonaire – Ilfred Piar 74', Suehendley Barzey 76'. Aruba – Maurice Escalona 43’.

Bonaire XI: Josephia; Rodriguez-Vergara, J. Beaumont [A. Beaumont 83’], R. Coffie, Gijsbertha; Pauletta [Valenzuela 66’], A. Piar [Makaai 66’], Janga, Janzen [I. Piar 66’]; Barzey; L. Coffie [Seinpaal 55’].

Friday, 15 November 2013

Brave Bonaire bow out to Suriname in ABCS semi's

Bonaire went some way to laying to rest the ghosts of last years 8-0 thrashing by Suriname as they bravely went down 2-0 in the ABCS Tournament semi-finals in Curaçao in a game they could have got something from.

Anthem...Bonaire before the match
After an even opening the FIFA side took the lead after 20 minutes. A corner from the right-hand side was poorly defended by Bonaire and SV Robinhood striker Galgyto Talea pounced for his first international goal.

The Surinamese stepped up the pressure after the opening goal and almost doubled their tally 5 minutes later. Joal Bajar released Giovanni Waal but the midfielder shot narrowly wide of Rugenio Josephia’s left-hand post.

After this chance the non-FIFA side began to find their composure and took the game to Suriname. Rolando Janzen fired wide from distance in the 35th minute before Ilfred Piar, who scored against Suriname in the 2010 ABCS Tournament, forced a fine save from Obrendo Huiswoud with a powerful free-kick.

Bonaire started the second half with similar enthusiasm but were dealt a sucker-punch in the 61st minute when striker Dimitrie Apai doubled the FIFA sides lead. Despite the setback Bonaire continued to play good football and had a glorious chance to claw a way back into the game in the 69th minute.

SV Juventus forward Giovanni Makaai was played in with only Huiswoud to beat but he hesitated and the goalkeeper was able to smother the ball. Apai went close again for Suriname but Bonaire kept focused and remained untroubled whilst failing to create further chances of their own.

A more than respectable defeat means the non-FIFA side will meet the losers of the second semi-final, between hosts Curaçao and Aruba, on Saturday night.

Match information -

Score: Bonaire 0-2 Suriname

Goals: Galgyto Talea 20’, Dimitrie Apai 61’.

Bonaire XI: Josephia; Rodriguez-Vergara, Beaumont, R. Coffie [Makaai 64'], Gijsbertha; Pauletta, Valenzuela [A. Piar 59'], Janga, Janzen; Barzey [Seinpaal 81']; I. Piar [L. Coffie 60'].

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

3 England-based players included as Gibraltar name first squad as UEFA member

Gibraltar national team manager Allen Bula today announced his first squad for an international since they joined UEFA, including 3 players who ply their trade in England, ahead of next Tuesday’s clash with Slovakia.
Boss..manager Bula

Danny Higginbotham was the standout name with the former Stoke City defender, currently with Chester in the Conference, called up for the first time. Barnsley’s Scott Wiseman will also feature for the first time and is the highest-level player in the squad. Adam Priestley, of Northern Premier League Division One North side Farsley.

The core of the squad is home-based with captain Roy Chipolina, goalkeeper Jordan Perez and strikers Lee Casciaro and Al Greene all selected by Bula. Liam Walker, who spent last season at Portsmouth, is also in the side. In total there are 13 players from the last Gibraltar squad to play internationally at the 2011 Island Games.

The game against Slovakia will take place in Faro, Portugal whilst Gibraltar’s Victoria stadium undergoes work. The Slovakian's, who’ll be without Martin Skrtel and Marek Hamsik for the game, were somewhat predictable first UEFA opponents for Gibraltar as manager Jan Kosak previously worked with Bula at MFK Kosice.

Kick-off at the Estadio do Algarve as at 18:30 and updates will be available via our Twitter service as well as a report after the match.

Full squad - 

Goalkeepers: Jordan Perez (Lincoln), Jamie Robba (Lynx) and Kevin De Los Santos (Man United 62)

Defenders: Roy Chipolina (Lincoln), Scott Wiseman (Barnsley [England]), Ryan Casciaro (Lincoln), Matt Reoch (Man United 62), Danny Higginbotham (Chester [England]), Jack Sergeant (Man United 62), Joseph Chipolina (St. Josephs) and Yogan Santos (Man United 62).

Midfielders: Liam Walker (San Roque [Spain]), Robert Guilling (Lincoln), Jeremy Lopez (Man Untied 62), Daniel Duarte (Lincoln), Julian Bado (Lynx), Daylian Victor (College Europa) and Kyle Casciaro (Lincoln).

Forwards: Lee Casciaro (Lincoln), Al Greene (Glacis United), George Cabrera (Lincoln), Adam Priestley (Farsley [England]) and John Paul Duarte (Lincoln)

Monday, 11 November 2013

Bonaire the underdogs ahead of 2013 ABCS Tournament

Bonaire will take to the field for the first time in over a year on Thursday when they meet Suriname in the semi-finals of the 2013 ABCS Tournament.

Base...Bonaire have been training at the Stadion di Playa
The competition was first held in 2010 and features 4 Dutch-speaking Caribbean teams, namely Bonaire and 3 FIFA members Aruba, Suriname and Curaçao. The latter will host the event in their capital Willemstad after Bonaire pulled out of staging the finals earlier this year.

Having recently been accepted into CONCACAF Bonaire will be looking to demonstrate their progress after a disappointing 8-0 loss to Suriname in last year’s semi’s, followed by a 9-2 thrashing by Curaçao in the bronze medal match.

In 2010 Bonaire also finished last but were shock winners in 2011 when they toppled Aruba on penalties to claim a sensational gold medal. Despite this they will start the 2013 as outsiders.

The team last year was mainly made up of SV Estrellas players, complimented by a handful from other clubs on the island. The side is expected to be more of a true representative one this time around as the Bonaire Football Federation cast one eye on the 2014 Caribbean Cup, the draw for which is expected to take place in December.

Rout...Romeo Jomena scores in the 8-0 thrashing last year
27-year old forward Kenneth Kunst will be the non-FIFA sides’ best hope of a goal with the former Netherlands Antilles international Bonaire’s record-scorer with 2, including 1 in the 2011 final. André Piar is capable of chipping in from midfield but the defence, where Rolando Janzen is key, is likely to be the most stretched area.

Prior to the 8-0 drubbing last year Bonaire also met the Surinamese in the semi-finals in 2010, when they put in a fine performance going down 4-2. However with a population of 17,000 compared to Suriname’s total of 566,846 an upset is unlikely, although the non-FIFA side have been training at their Stadion di Playa home in Kralendijk since October 28th.

Updates and reports on the scarcely documented competition will be available via our Twitter account and blog. 

Full schedule
Thursday 16th – Semi-finals: Bonaire vs. Suriname (20:00) and Curaçao vs. Aruba (22:00).

Saturday 18th – 3rd-place match and final.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Cyprus and Northern Cyprus unite after landmark FIFA meeting

The Cyprus Football Association (CFA) and Cyprus Turkish Football Association (CTFA) today reached a historical deal following meetings with FIFA and UEFA in Zurich.

Unified...the two associations.
The landmark agreement saw the CTFA become a member of the CFA with the view to unify and develop football in both parts of the island.

Witnessed by Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini the document was signed by Cyprus Football Association (CFA) President Costakis Koutsokoumnis and Cyprus Turkish Football Association (CTFA) President Hasan Sertoğlu.

FIFA president Blatter took the Twitter to state that the "milestone" deal shows how football can “build bridges”. 

It is expected that Northern Cypriot clubs will now be able to compete in the Greek Cypriot leagues which have improved in recent years highlighted by APOEL Nicosia’s run to the Champions League quarter-finals in 2012.

It was initially reported part of the deal stated the Northern Cyprus national team, who have not played since the 2012 VIVA World Cup final, could now be able to play international friendlies against FIFA members. 

However later information from non-FIFA journalist Steve Menary suggested that this isn't the case, and that Northern Cyprus will be able to compete in the UEFA Regions Cup much like Jersey, Guernsey andn the Isle of Man have done before.

Monday, 4 November 2013

After FIFA and Serbia meetings, the future: Team Kosovo

With the Football Federation of Kosovo having a meeting with both FIFA and the Football Association of Serbia in Zurich last week the possibility of a Kosovar national team once again rose to the attention of the international football community.

Meetings...the FFK met with FIFA
FFK president Fadil Vokrri and his Serbian counterpart Tomislav Karadžić agreed, with Sepp Blatter, to meet again at the end of November ahead of FIFA’s executive committee meeting on December 4th and 5th.

The world governing body announced in May last year that Kosovo would be allowed to play internationals against their members despite not being part of FIFA themselves, only to later revoke that decision after strong protests from the Serbian FA.

Big name players with Kosovar backgrounds, such as Xherdan Shaqiri and Valon Behrami, signed a petition in September 2012 asking Sepp Blatter to allow the Kosovo national side to play internationally.

Meetings and decisions on the matter were postponed until February of this year when FIFA announced that, as long as national symbols weren’t displayed, then Kosovar youth, amateur, women’s and club teams could play games.

Following the recent meetings, it seems Kosovo will be able to play in a similar way to the Catalonia and Basque teams which meet once or twice a year and ‘borrrow’ players from the FIFA-recognised nations they play competitive international football for.

Kosovo haven’t played an international since February 2010 when they lost 3-2 to Albania, 3 years after their previous match which was a credible 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia. On both occasions the squad was predominantly home-grown and low-key.

We at Non-FIFA Football Updates decided to pick a hypothetical best Kosovo XI, based on players who’d be eligible to represent any future national side. Here’s what we came up with.


Shaqiri      Bajrami    Januzaj

Behrami Xhaka

Ferati  Cana  I. Berisha  Dallku

E. Berisha


Etrit Berisha (24, Lazio) – After rising to prominence with Kalmar in the Allsvenskan the penalty taking shot-stopper was snapped up by Lazio in the summer and starts for Albania.


Armend Dallku (30, Vorskla Poltava) – An obvious choice at right-back, Dallku has huge experience with over 200 games in the Ukrainian top-flight as well as 61 caps for Albania.

Leader...Albania captain Cana
Lorik Cana (30, Lazio) –Albania captain and the strongest defender at Kosovo’s disposal, Cana is currently a mainstay in the Lazio defence after spells at Galatasaray, Sunderland and Marseille.

Ilir Berisha (22, Örebro) – After impressing in the Swedish top-flight during the past year Berisha is another Kosovo-born player expected to be called up to the Albania national side soon.

Beg Ferati (26, Sion) – Not a conventional left-back Ferati has spent most of his career in Switzerland, the country he also has 1 cap for, with Sion and Basel

Defensive midfielders

Valon Behrami (28, Napoli) – Currently enjoying Champions League football with Napoli the talented Behrami counts Fiorentina, West Ham and Lazio amongst his former clubs and is a Switzerland international.

Granit Xhaka (21, Borussia Mönchengladbach) – An extremely talented youngster Xhaka is a regular fixture in the Bundesliga and is an under-17 World Cup winner with Switzerland and regular in the current senior side.

Attacking midfielders

Adnan Januzaj (18, Manchester United) – Gifted winger who rose to prominence this season in the Premier League, Januzaj could represent a number of nations which we discussed here.

Proud...Shaqiri celebrates with a Kosovo flag
Emir Bajrami (25, Panathinaikos) – Recently moved to Greece after a successful spell with Twente, Bajrami has scored twice for Sweden before and can also play on the wing.

Xherdan Shaqiri (22, Bayern Munich) – Arguably the most talented player in the team Shaqiri is Switzerland’s key man and won the treble with Bayern Munich last season.


Albert Bunjaku (29, Kaiserslautern) – Pips Erton Fejzullahu due to his experience, Bunjaku scored 13 goals for Kaisterslautern in the 2. Bundesliga last season and was part of the Switzerland team at the 2010 World Cup.


GK: Samir Ujkani (Palermo, 25). MF: Përparim Hetemaj (26, Cheivo), Kristian Nushi (31, St Gallen), Almen Abdi (27, Watford) FW: Erton Fejzullahu (25, Djurgårdens).

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Gibraltar to make senior UEFA debut in 3 weeks

Gibraltar will play their first official game as a UEFA member on November 19th when they take on Slovakia in a friendly at the Estádio Algarve in Portugal.

Venue..the Estádio Algarve.
The news was announced this morning by the Slovakian FA with the game set to be played in Faro due to the fact the UEFA standard stadium in Gibraltar is not yet completed standards yet and the complications of the Gibraltarians playing matches in Spain.

A kick off time is yet to be announced. Initially it was thought that Gibraltar's game against Estonia next March would be their first as UEFA members but it will now be versus the Slovakian's, a side who reached the last 16 of the 2010 World Cup.

Later today the Gibraltar Football Association announced another friendly, against the Faroe Islands on March 1st at the Victoria Stadium.

The Gibraltar under-17's are currently competing in UEFA's European under-17 Championship qualifiers in Armenia after the under-19's finished their maiden qualification campaign in the Czech Republic earlier this month.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Football potentially back on the schedule for Micronesian Games

Against the odds football might be an included sport at the 2014 Micronesian Games which could result in the participation of a number of non-FIFA teams.
Rarity..a Pohnpei representative outing.

The games are being held in Pohnpei, one of the states of Micronesia, and in September the organising committee stated  football was under consideration provided enough teams are interested to play and a playing field can be prepared in time. 

Developments arose on Thursday when Charles Mitchell, president of the Palau Football Association, stated "I got a call from the Palau National Olympic Committee and they said football was on. They informed me to submit a budget and start training".

Should the rumours be true then Palau could find themselves up against hosts Pohnpei (formerly managed by Englishman Paul Watson) and fellow states Chuuk and Yap, but not the Micronesia national team. Guam, Kiribati and the Northern Mariana Islands are also potneital entrees.  

The games are to be held from the 19th to the 29th of July but ex-coach Watson was doubtful as to football being played when we interviewed him last year. In contrast to Pohnpei Palau have not played since 1998 and you can read our April interview with Mitchell here.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Tuvalu tour the Netherlands as they hope to grab FIFA's attention

For the past two months Tuvalu's national football team have been on a tour around the Netherlands playing a variety of lower-league Dutch club sides. In doing so they became only the third Oceanian team to visit Europe, after New Zealand and Tonga. 

Experience..the tour will prove valuable
For Tuvalu to even be in the Netherlands is a major achievement. The island nation has only one football pitch, and partly for this reason, they have never played a home match. 

That the tour is even happening is largely thanks to one man – Dutchman Paul Driessen. Paul is the driving force behind the Stichting Dutch Support Tuvalu (SDST), an organisation dedicated to developing football in Tuvalu and helping the Pacific country reach its target of FIFA membership.

Although Tuvalu attained independence in 1978 and has since frequently competed in the South Pacific Games, attempts to join FIFA have ran into difficulties. The governing body has repeatedly denied Tuvalu membership, citing a lack of infrastructure in Tuvalu (a regulation which, it must be assumed, other Pacific FIFA members are exempt from). 

The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) have proved less than helpful in their own right – Tuvalu remains only an associate member of the organisation, with OFC showing reluctance to provide funding and support.

Hope...Tuvalu wait for FIFA membership
From a footballing perspective, the tour itself hasn't gone quite how the Tuvaluans would have liked. After opening with a 3-2 defeat against VV Nieuweschoot, they went down 10-1 to VV Wilhelmus in their second game. It took seven attempts for them to secure a victory, which came against the A1 (youth) team of VV Bredenrodes. Tuvalu went into a 3-0 lead by half-time, and eventually won the game 5-3. 

They put in some good performances since and scored some impressive victories, not least a 9-1 win over RKVV Tongelre in one of their recent games. One of the most consistent performers for Tuvalu through the tournament has been striker Alopua Petoa, who has contributed with a number of goals, although unfortunately full statistics are not available.

Tuvalu have two games left in the Netherlands, which take place against VV Elsendorp on 26 October followed by RKVV Oerle on the 31st. The tour will have proved a great learning experience for the Tuvalu footballers and served to raise awareness of their circumstances - they’re expected to formally apply for FIFA membership in the near future.

This article was written by Michael Peters. If you’d like to write for us contact

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Curaçao to host 2013 ABCS Tournament

Curaçao will be the venue for this year’s ABCS Tournament after non-FIFA side Bonaire pulled out of hosting the yearly event.

The 2013 finals will be played from November 16th-18th in Willemstad.

Venue...the Stadion Ergilio Hato in Willemstad
Citing financial problems Bonaire, who joined CONCACAF and the Caribbean Football Union in April, were initially rumoured to not be participating at all but they will travel to Curaçao along with Aruba and Suriname.

The Bonaire national team has only ever played internationally at the ABCS Tournament, which started in 2010, and despite being outclassed last year they were shock winners in 2011. 

They are expected to enter the 2014 Caribbean Cup after their recent acceptance by CONCACAF as associate members.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Januzaj to represent Kosovo?

The Kosovo Football Federation have confirmed contact with Manchester United prospect Adnan Januzaj’s family in regard to the 18-year old representing the non-FIFA side at international level.

KFF general secretary Eroll Salihu said “we would be honoured to have Adnan represent us but we don’t want to put pressure on him”. Federation president Fadil Vokkri also went public stating “contact with his family has been made and we hope to speak to him, directly, very soon”.
Impression...Januzaj has been on good form this season
Ever since scoring twice against Sunderland in the Premier League recently Januzaj has been the subject of heavy conversation in England concerning his international availability. English national team manager Roy Hodgson has stated his interest and Belgium, the country of his birth, have already been turned down by the youngster on several occasions.
Turkey, Serbia and Albania remain other options but Kosovo is rumoured to be his first-choice despite the territory’s currently disputed status. Bayern Munich winger Xherdan Shaqiri and Napoli player Valon Behrami are 2 of the many players who’d be eligible and have expressed interest in playing for a FIFA-recognised Kosovo team.
The Kosovar representative side have not played at international level since a 3-2 loss in Pristina to Albania in February 2010.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

South Ossetia make international bow in Abkhazia loss

The disputed region of South Ossetia played an international for the first time last month when they travelled to fellow breakaway state Abkhazia for a friendly.

Unrecognized...the flags of the territories on a match poster
Both regions are recognised by only 5 countries, including Russia, who are viewed by Georgia as occupying the 2 areas. Abkhazia made their debut last year with 2 games against Nagorno-Karabakh and the proclaimed capital of Sukhumi was the venue for game on September 23rd.

In pouring conditions the hosts seized the initiative early on when Russian-based Almaskhan Dzheniya headed home an Astamur Tarba free-kick following some slack South Ossetian marking. Shortly before half-time Enrik Pilia was fouled inside the box and goalkeeper Aleksei Bondarenko stepped up to coolly slot home for 2-0.

Abkhazia failed to win in their 2 games against Nagorno-Karabakh last year but wrapped up their maiden victory when youngster Anrik Tania, fresh off the bench, took advantage of some more poor defending to make it 3-0.

Comfortable...Abkhazia cruised to victory
After the game veterans of the Abkhazian war were presented with gifts from the Abkhazia Football Federation and South Ossetia Chairman of the Sport Committee Sergey Zasseev stated “this is a historic date because in 20 years our teams have not met - this will forever remain in history”.

Information on such teams is hard to find and it is difficult to say when these teams will play next, however, a link to a short video which includes highlights of the game is available here.

Match information -

Score: Abkhazia 3–0 South Ossetia

Goals: Almaskhan Dzeniya ?, Aleksei Bondarenko ? (pen), Anrik Tania ?

Abkhazia XI: Bondarenko; Simonia, Ashuba [Chekirov ?], Khanagua, Khagba; Tarba [Tania ?],Tsishba; Dzhenia [Amichba ?], Khagba, Zaria; Pilia, Logua [Parulua ?]

South Ossetia XI: ?; Kabulov, Pukhayev, ?

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Developments in Gibraltar as UEFA debut approaches

The last few weeks have seen significant developments take place in Gibraltar, who became UEFA’s 54th member in May, as the British overseas territory prepares for its full international bow.

The Gibraltar Football Association recently confirmed 2 friendlies, both of which will mark their UEFA debut, with a double-header against Estonia arranged for next spring. The Baltic state are the only UEFA members who’ve played every other side on the continent and will travel to Gibraltar for a game at the Victoria Stadium on March 5th. The Gibraltarians will then visit Tallinn on May 26th for a return game.
Wise...Higginbotham has much Premier League experience

This news was preceded by a UEFA statement confirming that, from the 2014-2015 season, the Gibraltar Premier Division will be able to provide sides for both the Champions League and Europa League qualification rounds subject to the clubs having a European license. 

In more positive developments for the non-FIFA side former Manchester United, Southampton and Stoke City defender Danny Higginbotham announced his availability to national team manager Allen Bula. Higginbotham qualifies via his mother and the 34-year old currently plays for semi-professional side Chester, who are in the 5th tier of English football. 

Monday, 7 October 2013

CECAFA Cup returns to Kenya

Zanzibar will travel to Kenya for the 2013 CECAFA Cup which is set to be held in Nairobi this December.

Heroes...Zanzibar came 3rd last year in Uganda
The decision to hold the tournament in the Kenyan capital was announced last month, just 4 years after the nation last hosted the regional event.

Zanzibar are the only non-FIFA side that compete in the competition and shocked their FIFA rivals last year finishing 3rd, a feat they previously achieved the last time Kenya were hosts in 2009. 

The competing teams and groups are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Interview #8 (Summer 2013): Saaremaa and Hiiumaa player Martti Pukk

Martti Pukk is arguably the finest footballing export from the Estonian island of Hiiumaa but it is his exploits for Island Games Association members Saaremaa which have made him a well-known non-FIFA player. Pukk was born on Hiiumaa, population 9,000, and started his footballing career there before making a national name for himself at top-flight FC Kuressaare which is Saaremaa’s biggest club.
FCK...Pukk for Kuressaare

After joining in 2004 Pukk helped them get promoted to the Meistriliiga on 3 occasions and now, at the age of 36, is still playing for the island side. He had a short spell with Estonian giants Flora Tallinn last year but is back with the club he loves as they look to stave off another relegation to the 2nd tier.

Until this year’s finals in Bermuda Saaremaa have been contested every Island Games football tournament since 1999 with Pukk playing in each tournament from 2005. The early days of Saaremaa’s participation were blighted by some poor defeats – their 1999 loss to Hitra and a 2003 1-0 defeat to Alderney represent the only games these 2 islands have ever won at the competition.

Performances picked up in the later part of the 00’s with a veritable Saaremaa ‘golden generation’ finishing a best-ever 6th in 2005. Viktor Alonen, with 71 caps for Estonia, was part of that side which Pukk top-scored in with 4 goals. In 2011 Saaremaa matched their record finish by coming 6th again but only after a penalty shootout had seen them miss out on a place in the semi-finals.

A re-launch of inter-county matches by the Estonian Football Association has meant that, as of 2011, Saaremaa have met their smaller neighbours Hiiumaa in an annual summer friendly. Hiiumaa’s largest club Kärdla Linnameeskond play in the 4th-tier with FC Kuressaare’s B team Sörve JK and unsurprisingly Saaremaa have won each match in the last 3 years.
Unlucky...Pukk (in white) for Hiiumaa last month

Pukk chooses to represent his island of birth in these games and the 1-0 win this summer was a close affair. Hiiumaa also managed to score away from home in 2012, Pukk inevitably getting the goal. With Kuressaare once again struggling at the foot of the Meistriliiga and the 2015 Island Games in Jersey likely to feature a Saaremaa football team we caught up with Pukk to hear his thoughts.

NFFU: After representing Saaremaa for so many years at the Island Games how did it feel to play against them for the island of your birth Hiiumaa these last 3 summers?

MP: It felt great because I was playing together again with some of my old teammates and with some young talents from my birth island. The only bad thing is that we have lost all these 3 games, but soon we will win.

NFFU: You grew up in Hiiumaa but have played much of your career on Saaremaa. Would you say there is a big difference in the quality of the 2 teams?

MP: I’ve played half of my career with clubs from Hiiumaa but in the lower leagues and one of the reasons I joined FC Kuressaare was that they’re stronger and gave me a chance to play in the Estonian highest level.  I’ve never regretted this choice I made because last year I got my first (unfortunately also last) professional contract with Flora Tallinn and I now have a bronze medal from the Estonian championship!

NFFU: Do you think Hiiumaa would be able to sustain a semi-professional Meistriliiga club like Saaremaa does?

MP: Yes it is possible, but it takes time, maybe in 5 or even 10 more years.

NFFU: You have played in 4 Island Games tournaments, how does it feel to be representing Saaremaa against teams from all over the world?
Experienced...Pukk against Rhodes at the 2007 games

MP: I am very happy that officials gave me the chance to represent Saaremaa and I have done it very proudly.

NFFU: You were joint top goal-scorer in 2005 – would you say this was your best Island Games performance individually?

MP: Yes. That year we had a very good and experienced team, we played good matches and I scored some nice goals.

NFFU: Saaremaa came 6th that year and also in 2011 when you missed out on making the semi-finals only on penalties. Which side would you say was better, 2005 or 2011?

MP: In 2005 we had a good and experienced team as well as a very strong group where we managed a draw against later winners Shetland, but we finished 6th. In 2011 we should have got to the semi-finals without having to go to penalties but we had new and young team. With the 2005 team we would have done it.

NFFU: You lost 4-0 to Gibraltar in 2011 who have now joined UEFA. Do you think they will be competitive in European Championship qualification next year?

MP: Congratulations to them, but I think they will not get good results in international games.

NFFU: Did you play in the 1-0 loss to Alderney in 2003? This must be one of your worst Island Games memories if so?

MP: No, 2005 were my first games, but I have heard from older players that the Saaremaa team has got even worse losses than against Alderney in the past.

NFFU: Do you think you will still be playing for Saaremaa at the 2015 games in Jersey?

Goal-fest...Saaremaa versus Åland in 2011
MP: I hope to stay fit and play in 2015.

NFFU: What would you say your best memory playing for Saaremaa and Kuressaare have been?

MP: For Saaremaa my first games in Shetland in 2005 and for FC Kuressaare my goal against Flora Tallinn which was our first victory against them in club history.

NFFU: After the strong performance in the 2011 Island Games would you say that the future is good for Saaremaa and FC Kuressaare?

MP: Yes, Saaremaa and FC Kuressaare have a real chance to get good placements in the future. But it is not easy; everything comes with hard work and commitment.

NFFU: Who would you say the best young players from the island are at the moment? Who do you think has a good future?

MP: At the moment the best Saaremaa player is probably Kuressaare captain Sander Viira but there are a lot of new and young players coming who can get to the top, only if they want to get there themselves.

NFFU: Do you think Kuressaare can avoid relegation and stay in the Meistriliiga this year?

MP: Yes, we can, I have faith in my team!