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!

Monday 29 July 2013

New N.F.-Board members in talks with Alexi Lalas over managerial role

Cascadia, the latest association to join the N.F.-Board, are in talks with former United States international Alexi Lalas over a potential role as their new national team manager. Lalas stated on Twitter that he’d be “honoured” to take the position and since then talks have begun between the 2 parties.
New boys...the CAFF.

Lalas won 96 caps for the USA national side in a career that saw him play club football for Padova and Los Angeles Galaxy. The Cascadia Association Football Federation are also speaking to other candidates for the job as they look to assemble a team with an eye on a maiden friendly against Quebec.

The CAFF have drawn up a potential player pool of almost 100 players and have already had interest, with Seattle Sounders under-23 midfielder Justin Solomon stating his desire to be involved.  The managerial announcement is expected before the end of the year.

Rampant Shetland claim back Milne Cup

4 goals in the second half saw 2005 Island Games winner Shetland defeat Orkney 4-1 to lift the Milne Cup. The hosts went behind in stoppage time at the end of the opening period but goals from Leighton Flaws, Josie Kay, Joel Bradley and James Aitken made sure Orkney’s winless run on Shetland extends to 32 years.
Champions...Shetland celebrate with the trophy.

The visitors saw more of the ball in the opening period but it was Shetland defender Robert Smith who had the best chance, his shot flying narrowly wide of Davy Leonard’s post.  However the young Orkney team found a perhaps deserved breakthrough with half-time imminent.

A cross from the right hand side was missed by a sleeping Shetland defence and Rendall striker John Pickles tapped home from close-range for his first Orkney goal. The visitors came out after the break with the intent to continue attacking and this ultimately proved their downfall.

Debut goal...Bradley scores.
In the 51st minute the hosts were given a penalty and captain Leighton Flaws, who has 4 Island Games goals to his name, fired home for 1-1.  Shetland took 10 minutes to seize a lead for the first time as veteran midfielder James Johnston picked out Josie Kay with a fine ball and the defender headed past Leonard.

With the visitors continuing to press further Shetland goals were inevitable and another defender, this time Joel Bradley, got in on the act when he shot home for 3. The victory was sealed in the 79th minute when substitute Roy Wood crossed for James Aitken to roll the ball past Leonard.

Orkney threatened on a couple of occasions thanks to substitute Kyron Taylor but the result was never in doubt in the latter stages and the hosts could begin to celebrate lifting the Milne Cup once again.

Match information -

Score: Shetland 4-1 Orkney

Goals: Shetland – Leighton Flaws 51’ (pen), Josie Kay 61’, Joel Bradley 68’, James Aitken 79’. Orkney – John Pickles 45’.

Shetland XI: Peterson; Fraser, Bradley, Kay, Flaws; Smith, Leask [Wood 77’], Henderson [Drozdowski 70’], Johnston; Umphray [Jamieson 70’], Aitken [Sinclair 88’].

Orkney XI: Leonard; Manson, C Stout, ?, ?; Edwards [Taylor ?], Moffat, ?, ?; Bews, Pickles.

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Island rivals ready for Milne Cup showdown

The 105th Milne Cup takes place this Saturday as Orkney face the difficult job of retaining their title in Lerwick against Shetland. The holders haven’t won away from home in the annual tie since 1981 and, in an even longer standing record, have not won back-to-back games against their great rivals since 1966.

Hero...Tait heads home in the 2012 upset
Orkney stunned the 2005 Island Games winners last year as they ran out 3-1 winners in Kirkwall, their 1st victory since 2004. Over 2,000 fans are expected at Gilbertson Park as a fairly inexperienced host side aim to retain the title they lost last summer.

No fewer than eight players have been called up for the 1st time including goalkeeper Iain Devonald, defender Joel Bradley and striker Richard Sinclair. Despite the new faces experienced heads such as James Johnston, who’s played in 15 Milne Cup games, and Leighton Flaws have also been named in the squad.

Defender Flaws scored 3 goals at the 2009 Island Games, the last time Shetland fielded a side at the event, and also bagged 2 when they hosted the competition in 2005. Stephen Umphray is included again after not featuring for Shetland from 2005 to 2012 and he could be paired with James Aitken, scorer of the 2011 Milne Cup winner, in attack.
Converted...Flaws scoring at the 2009 Island Games

Orkney’s 2-goal hero last summer John Tait misses out this time due to injury but DJ Moffat, who also scored in the 3-1 win, is included. The holders have only played in 3 Island Games before and the most recent was in 2005 when they beat the Falkland Islands to finish 9th.

Veteran striker Erik Bews scored in those finals 7 years ago and he is 1 of 7 squad members playing at Orkney league side Thorfinn. The game kicks off at 18:00 local time and our report will be available on the blog after the match.

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Gibraltar rumoured to announce 2014 Estonia friendlies

Gibraltar are expected to confirm 2 friendlies with Estonia in the coming weeks after speculation about such fixtures arose in the Baltic nation’s press. The GFA joined UEFA in May and according to Estonian newspaper Postimees both associations met on June 5th to discuss 2 potential matches in 2014.
New boys...the GFA joined UEFA in May

It’s believed that the Estonians will travel to Gibraltar for a game at the Victoria Stadium on March 5th before the non-FIFA side head to Tallinn for a return fixture on May 26th. Since joining UEFA in May the Gibraltarians are yet to announce any friendlies with fellow members.

The British overseas territory is expected to make their competitive debut in the Euro 2016 qualifiers which begin in the autumn of 2014. 

Friday 19 July 2013

Late defeat for Greenland sees Bermuda snatch gold, Falklands finish 3rd

It was heartbreak for Greenland in the Island Games final as FIFA members Bermuda snatched the gold medal thanks to an 88th minute penalty from Drewonde Bascome. In the 3rd-place match the Falkland Islands won bronze for the 1st time after cruising to their record-win, 6-0 over Frøya.

Heartbreak....Bascome converts the penalty
A big crowd came out to support the hosts in Hamilton but both sides put in a cagey 1st half performance, no doubt influenced by a tiring schedule which had seen the teams play 3 games in the last 4 days. Maasi Maqe tested Freddy Hall shortly before the interval as the non-FIFA side, who were unlucky to lose 3-0 in this fixture in the group stage, flexed their attacking muscles.

The hosts stepped it up in the 2nd period and Antwan Russell chipped the ball wide after an error by Loke Svane in the 50th minute. Shortly after Domico Coddingdton released Russell but his cross fizzed across the face of goal untouched. Substitute Rai Simmons almost won the game in the 75th minute when he rounded Svane, but his shot hit the post from a right angle.

With penalties on the cards Coddington was bundled over in the box and Bascome fired home for a dramatic late winner. The gold medal was Bermuda’s first and the silver for Greenland was also their maiden top 3 finish. With their geographical and footballing isolation as mighty as it is Greenland are not likely to play again until the 2015 games in Jersey.

Match information -

Score: Bermuda 1-0 Greenland

Goals: Drewonde Bascome 88’ (pen)

Greenland XI: Svane; N Zeeb, K Mathæussen, Stephensen, Birch; Maqe, N Mathæussen, Petersen, K Zeeb, Broberg; Jensen.
In the bronze medal match it was the Falkland Islands who beat Frøya to secure their 1st ever medal. The South American side took just 4 minutes to break the deadlock when Martyn Gilson-Clarke, the former Boca Juniors trialist, headed home a Patricio Balladares free-kick for his 3rd international goal.

Rout...the Falklands celebrate Balladares' goal
In the extreme heat Balladares made it 2-0 after 26 minutes when he raced through on goal and finished past Eirik Vatn Fredagsvik at the 2nd time of asking. Captain and record scorer Wayne Clement had 2 chances to make it 3 before half-time, shooting over when 1-on-1 with Fredagsvik before dragging an effort wide in the 44th minute.

The Norwegians started the 2nd half well and Ole Norborg Mathisen curled an effort wide before 20-year old Martin Gaasø’s free-kick went just over Ben Hoyles’ bar in the 51st minute.  Lars Christian Larsen and Jon Ivar Theodorsen also came close as Frøya put the Falklands under some intense pressure. 

However when defender Zaza Elbakidze scored 2 goals in 4 minutes it was game over. Doug Clarke added a 5th with 10 minutes to go before 16-year old Scott Thain put the icing on the cake with a debut international goal in the 87th minute.

Match information

Score: Falkland Islands 6-0 Frøya

Goals: Martyn Gilson-Clarke 4’, Patricio Balladares 27’ Doug Clarke 80’ Zaza Elbakidze 74’, 77 Scott Thain 87’

Falkland Islands XI: Hoyles; K Biggs, Elbakidze, Gilson-Clarke; L Clarke [Chater 65’], Ross, D Biggs, Balladares [Thain 72’], Peck, Sotomayor; Clement [D Clarke 72’].

Frøya XI: Fredagsvik; Theodorsen, Mathissen [JS Johansen 83’], Sørdal, Iversen; Vikan [Skarnulisik 25’], A Johansen [Skarnulis 72’], Hallaren, Mathisen, Larsen; Gaasø.

Thursday 18 July 2013

Greenland reach Island Games final in style, Falklands and Frøya to contest bronze

Greenland went on the scoring rampage for the 2nd game in a row as they thrashed the Falkland Islands 9-0 to secure a place in the Island Games final for the 1st time in their history. The South Atlantic side needed 3 points to pip Greenland to that place but found themselves 5 down at the break en route to their joint record defeat. Both sides rested players with the Falklands seemingly aware of their upcoming fate. was an easy Greenland win
Big striker Norsaq Lund Mathæussen took just 5 minutes to score his 2nd of the competition when he found himself in too much space inside the box. The B-67 player made it 2-0 3 minutes later with another simple finish before right-back Minik Stephensen got his 1st international goal on 20 minutes.

Johan Bidstrup then joined in the part with a left-footed rocket before Sakiu Lundblad scored his 3rd goal of the games in the 42nd minute, firing in after Claudio Ross had cleared a corner off the line.

The Falklands didn’t give in and 5 minutes after the break captain Wayne Clement shot wide following a corner. However they were soon on the back foot again with Stephen Aldridge clearing off the line before substitute Zaza Elbakidze brought down John-Ludvig Broberg in the box, Maasi Maqe making it 6-0 from the penalty spot.

An awful spell then saw the Falklands concede 3 goals in 4 minutes as Broberg, Bidstrup and Palu Petersen added to the relentless marauding. Dan Biggs headed wide and Rafael Sotomayor forced Loke Svane into his only save but Greenland were able to cruise through the final stages.

Match information - 

Score: Falkland Islands 0-9 Greenland

Celebrate...the Greenland team 
Goals: Kaali Mathæussen 5’, 8’ Minik Stephensen 20’ Johan Bidstrup 38, 61’ Sakiu Lundblad 42’ Maasi Maqe 57’ (pen) John-Ludvig Broberg 59’ Palu Petersen 63’

Falkland Islands XI: Hoyles; K Biggs, Gilson-Clarke [Elbakidze 46’], L Clarke, Ross [D Biggs 70’]; Chipunza, Clayton, Balladares, Peck, Aldridge; Clement [Sotomayor 68’].

Greenland XI: Svane; N Mathæussen [Eldevig 68’], Stephensen, Birch, Lunblad; A Petersen, Maqe [Knudsen 50’], J Broberg, Bidstrup; K Mathæussen, P Petersen.

In the other game Bermuda’s reserves had too much for bottom side Frøya, who have now conceded 22 goals in 3 games. Hat-tricks for Lejaun Simmons and UK-based Angelo Simmons made sure the FIFA side were in full control with Rai Simons and Marco Warren adding to the rout.

The Norwegians will now meet the Falklands to decide who comes 3rd and who finishes last, with the former having never collected the wooden spoon at the Island Games. Greenland will be hoping for a closer game against Bermuda than the 3-0 group match in what promises to be an interesting final. Each of the 3 non-FIFA sides have never won medals at the men’s football before.

Match information - 

Score: Bermuda 8-0 Frøya

Goals: Lejaun Simmons 30', 73’, 81’ Angelo Simmons 33', 62’, 86’ Rai Simons 49' Marco Warren 67'.

Frøya XI:  Fredagsvik; Theodorsen, Iversen, Hallaren, Mathissen; Luberth, A Johansen, Mathisen, Vikan, Gaasø; Larsen.

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Heavy defeats for Falkland Islands and Frøya on Island Games day 2

The Falkland Islands crashed to their heaviest defeat since 2005 as they were taught a lesson by FIFA side Bermuda in their 2nd Island Games group match, going down 8-0. Elsewhere Greenland condemned Frøya to their record defeat to give their chances of reaching the final a real boost.

The non-FIFA side made a sloppy start when after 6 minutes captain Wayne Clement was adjudged to have handled in the box with Antwan Russell converting the resulting penalty. 6 minutes later and it was 2-0 as Damon Ming scored his 8th international goal with an effort that deflected past Ben Hoyles and into the net.

Outclassed...Falklands (in blue).
Joshua Peck made a vital clearance as the Falklands tried to cling on but they could not stop the 3rd goal, Damico Coddington scoring his 2nd goal of the 2013 games. Zeiko Lewis made it 4 in the 38th minute, blasting the ball beyond Hoyles as the Bermudans stepped up a gear. More desperate defending kept it at 4-0 and Clement could even have scored before the break, Freddy Hall diving to turn the effort round the post.

In the 47th minute Hoyles did well to deny Russell who was in on goal and 9 minutes later Danny Biggs lifted an effort wide at the other end. Bermuda then made it 5-0 in the 57th minute when substitute Rai Simons turned in Tyrell Burgess’ cross. 14 minutes later Lewis grabbed his 2nd of the game when he drove the ball beyond Hoyles, who moments later made a fine save to deny Burgess.

In the 78th minute the impressive Burgess got a deserved goal as he shot home from distance for 7-0 and Simons scored again after running through 1 on 1 against Hoyles and tucking the ball home, sealing a comprehensive win. The Falklanders will now be looking to beat Greenland on Wednesday to secure a final.

Match information - 

Score: Bermuda 8-0 Falkland Islands

Goals: Antwan Russell 6’ Damon Ming 12’ Damico Coddington 31’ Zeiko Lewis 38’, 73 Rai Simons 57’, 84’ Tyrell Burgess 78’

Falkland Islands XI: Hoyles; K Biggs, Chipunza, Gilson-Clarke, L Clarke, Ross; D Biggs [Clayton 89’], Balladares [Betts 72’], Peck, Clement; Sotomayor [Aldridge 82’].
A depleted Frøya team surprisingly crashed to their heaviest ever loss as a rampant Greenland put 12 goals past goalkeeper Eirik Vatn Fredagsvik. It was 5 at half-time after the Frøyans had to patch up their depleted 14-man squad with games swimmer Renaldas Skarnulis, golfer Rune Vikan and delegation leader Joar Sigurd Johansen.

Another one...Greenland score.
4 members of the Norweigan side dropped out in the days before the competition and they found themselves a goal behind after just 2 minutes when John-Ludvig Broberg scored. Anders Petersen, competing in his 6th Island Games, made it 2 before Sakiu Lundblad, Palu Petersen and Norsaq Lund Mathæussen made it 5-0. Kaali Mathæussen added a quick-fire brace after the break before Brodberg and Lundblad claimed their 2nd goals of the game. A Joar Johansen own-goal and substitute Lars Broberg completed the rout. 

There is a day’s rest before Greenland and the Faklands go head-to-head for a place in the final. The latter must win whereas the Greenlanders superior goal difference means 1 point is enough. Bermuda will take on Frøya in a game where they can take their foot of the gas ahead of their final appearance.

Match information - 

Score: Greenland 12-0 Frøya

Goals: John-Ludvig Broberg 2', 57' Anders Petersen 10' Sakiu Lundblad 19', 82' Palu Petersen 31' Norsaq Lund Mathæussen 35' Kaali Mathæussen 47', 49' Joar Sigurd Johansen 78' (og) Lars Peter Broberg 89'

Greenland XI: Svane; N Zeeb, K Mathæussen, J Broberg, A Petersen [L Broberg ?]; Lundblad, N Mathæussen, Birch, K Zeeb, P Petersen; Knudsen.

Frøya XI:  Fredagsvik; Theodorsen, Skarsvåg, J Johansen, ?;  Luberth, A Johansen, ?, Vikan, Gaasø; Skarnulis.

Monday 15 July 2013

Greenland crash to defeat whilst Falklands secure rare win on Island Games opening day

The biennial Island Games got underway in Bermuda over the weekend and on the opening night of football the hosts, who are members of FIFA, saw off Greenland 3-0 whilst the Falkland Islands made a fine start to their campaign by defeating Frøya to secure only their 4th-ever international victory.

Packed...the national stadium was full.
In front of almost 8000 fans in Hamilton Greenland put in an impressive opening 45 but fell behind early on when Zeiko Lewis crossed for Domico Coddington to slide home from close range in the 10th minute. The 1st half was cagey but there was an electric start to the 2nd period which started when Denmark-based striker Daniel Knudsen hit the post right before the hosts when straight up the other end where Antwan Russell skied a close-range effort.

Minutes later and Bermuda were awarded a penalty when Nukanguaq Zeeb fouled Russell in the box. The striker, who plays in England with non-league Ilkeston, made it 2-0. Knudsen forced Freddy Hall into a good save as the Greenlanders continued to press but Lewis wrapped the game up in style, lobbing Loke Svane to make it 3.

Match information -

Score: Bermuda 3-0 Greenland

Goals: Domico Coddington 10’, Antwan Russell 51’ (pen), Zeiko Lewis 58’.

Greenland XI: Svane; N Zeeb, K Mathæussen, J Broberg [Eldevig 60’], Birch; Lundblad, N Mathæussen, Petersen, K Zeeb, Bidstrup; Jensen [Knudsen 46’].
The Falkland Islands effectively ensured a 1st-ever medal finish after beating Frøya 2-1 in a game that also decided the destination of the Small Islands Cup, which the Falklands had held after triumphing over Alderney 3-0 in 2011.

Rare...the 4th ever Falklands win.
The Norwegian side won 3-1 in the only previous meeting in 2009 but it was the Falklanders who made the better start yesterday with Wayne Clement going close after 6 minutes. Clement is the Falkland Islands record scorer with 3 goals and he extended that tally in the 17th minute when he fired beyond Arvid Sørdal for 1-0. The Atlantic Ocean side ended the half stronger and Josh Peck shot narrowly wide after Sørdal could only parry Patricio Balladares free-kick in the 44th minute.

Sørdal was called into action once more after the break when he denied Clement a 2nd in the 50th minute. Frøya began to put pressure on Ben Hoyles’ goal and defender Jon Ivar Theodorsen went close before they found the equaliser via Andreas Johansen in the 62nd minute following a poorly defended free-kick. Aqqalu Luberth was causing problems for the Falklands but they took only 4 minutes to restore their lead, Balladares crossing for Rafael Sotomayor to head home.

Clement and Sotomayor had opportunities to wrap the game up late on but in the end the Falkland Islands were happy to settle for 2-1 and celebrate a rare win. They take on the hosts today and Frøya and Greenland meet looking to get their campaign underway.

Match information

Score: Frøya 1-2 Falkland Islands

Goals: Frøya - Andreas Johansen 62’. Falkland Islands - Wayne Clement 17’, Rafael Sotomayor 66’.

Frøya XI: Sørdal; Theodorsen, Skarsvåg, Mathisen, Iversen  Luberth, Johansen, Hallaren, Mathissen [Vikan 85’]; Gaasø, Larsen.

Falkland Islands XI: Hoyles; K Biggs, Elbakidze, Gilson-Clarke, L Clarke; Ross, D Biggs, Balladares, Peck; Sotomayor, Clement.

Les Matinino loss means quarter-final confirmation must wait

Martinique went down 3-1 to CONCACAF Gold Cup holders Mexico in Denver today and as a result must wait for groups B and C to conclude before they know if they have made the quarter-finals.

Both sides made a positive start to the game and Mexico came close after only 6 minutes when Marco Fabián headed against Kevin Olimpa’s bar. Les Matinino demonstrated their attacking capabilities by immediately breaking down the other end, only for Kevin Parsemian’s clever flick to reach nobody in the Mexican box.

Jubilant...Mexico celebrate
In the 21st minute the FIFA side found the opener when Fabián scored his 3rd goal of the tournament after Olimpa parried a 1-on-1 effort from Rafael Márquez Lugo. The Gold Cup holders then made it 2-0 in the 34th minute, Luis Montes firing in a sensational long-range effort which was his 1st for his country.

It was looking bleak for the non-FIFA side but when Steeve Gustan was fouled in the box the Caribbean side were given a penalty and route back into the match. Parsemain coolly sent Moisés Muñoz the wrong way to claim his 15th goal in his last 16 internationals.

The 2nd period was a more cagey affair. Montes tried his luck from distance on the hour but the shot flew wide of Olimpa’s post. Márquez Lugo saw his free-kick miss the target in the 77th minute but substitute Miguel Ponce made sure of the 3 points in the final minute when he finished from close range.

Martinique will now wait to see the results in groups B and C before they know if they have reached the last 8 – their goal difference could see them pip a winner out of Cuba and Belize and meet either the United States or Costa Rica.

Match information –

Score: Martinique 1-3 Mexico

Goals: Martinique – Parsemain 42’ (pen). Mexico - Fabián 21’, Montes 34’, Ponce 89’.

Martinique XI: Olimpa; Linord [Abaul 36’], Arnolin, Babin; Germany, Hérelle; Thomert, Delem [Crétinoir 56’], Reuperné [Tresfield 78’], Gustan; Parsemain.

Friday 12 July 2013

Late penalty edges Panama past Martinique

Gabriel Torres scored a penalty with 7 minutes to go as Panama edged past Martinique in a scrappy Gold Cup group A game in Seattle. Torres’ third goal of the tournament saw Panama take a 6 point lead at the top of the group with the non-FIFA side slipping to 3rd following Mexico’s win over Canada.

Helpless...Olimpa is deflated after Torres converts
In a poor 1st half Torres had the only real chance just after the quarter hour mark when his weak effort flew straight into the hands of Bordeaux goalkeeper Kévin Olimpa. The packed midfield meant that the 3-pronged attack of Steeve Gustan, Kévin Parsemain and Frédéric Piquionne were not seeing enough of the ball.

Panama continued to shade the 2nd period but took until the 83rd minute to find a way through after Sébastien Crétinoir fouled Jairo Jimenez in the box, allowing Torres to fire past the diving Olimpa. Les Matinino had been battling with 10 men after Jacky Berdix’s saw red for a 2nd yellow after he brought down the tricky Torres 10 minutes before the penalty.

It was a frustrating defeat for the Caribbean side but the sensational late win over Canada in the opening game leaves them in good stead to claim 1 of the best 3rd-place positions and make the last 8. They conclude their group games against a weakened Mexico side in Denver on Sunday.

Match information –

Score: Panama 1-0 Martinique

Goals: Gabriel Torres 83’ (pen)

Martinique XI: Olimpa; Crétinoir, Arnolin, Berdix, Babin; Herelle, Thomert, Coureur [Germany 76’]; Parsemain, Piquionne [Arquin 79’], Gustan.

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Tynwald triumph for classy Occitania

Champions...Occitania celebrate
Occitania won silverware for the first time after being crowned champions of the Tynwald Hill Tournament last weekend on the Isle of Man. The Occitans cruised through the group-stages before seeing off club side St Johns United 2-0 in the final to lift the trophy. In a goal-packed competition Tamil Eelam took bronze ahead of Raetia, and Sealand pipped rivals Alderney to 5th.

Group A was labelled the group of death as soon as the draw was made. On the opening night Sealand and Tamil Eelam played out arguably the game of the tournament. Former Roma forward Panushanth Kulenthiran twice put the Asians ahead with spectacular finishes only for Sam Churchman and Dave Lee to draw the Seals level before the break. Captain Luke Wilson then gave the Sealanders the lead but captain Majouran Jeganathan levelled from a corner before a controversial penalty in stoppage time was awarded to the Tamils. Mathanraj Uthayanan made no mistake and the win was secured 2 minutes later when Ragvan Prashanth made it 5 after goalkeeper Tom McIntosh had gone up for a corner.
Thriller...Sealand's Churchman versus Tamil Eelam

In the 2nd group game Sealand, who lost 3 players to injury on the opening day, played a good 1st half but found themselves 2 down to Occitania thanks to a Guillaume Lafuente brace. In the 2nd half the footballing superiority shone through as the Occitans fired 6 goals beyond McIntosh for a comprehensive 8-0 win. The pre-tournament favourites then won the group the day after when they eased past Tamil Eelam 5-0. 4-0 up at half time Occitania midfielder Boris Massare was on top form, scoring his 2nd goal of the competition and causing havoc in the attacking 3rd. The Tamils, thanks to their win over Sealand, took 2nd place.

Group B proved to be much tighter despite the hosts cruising past an ill-disciplined Raetian side in the opening match. Midfielder Nick Hurt, the record-caps holder for the Isle of Man national team, was pulling the strings and he scored a penalty against the Swiss side after veteran midfielder John Wriggley had opened the scoring. Alderney then took on St Johns and were desperately unlucky to lose after taking a 1-0 lead thanks to a fine Josh Concanen goal. Steven Glover, a workhorse upfront for the hosts, won the game with less than 20 minutes to go. 
Hosts...St Johns (stripes) against Raetia

Alderney entered their 2nd game knowing a draw against Raetia would send them into the 3rd-place match. The team were hopeful of securing only a 3rd-ever win and they took the lead early on when Concanen notched his 2nd of the competition from the penalty spot. The game changed in the 19th minute when they Ridunians were reduced to 10-men following a handball on the line. Serkhan Karamese levelled from the spot before Sandro Dietrich thundered a loose ball home for 2-1. After the interval Dietrich’s composed finish made it 3 but Alderney replied via youngster Jamie Blackham, whose delicate finish made for a nervy finale. The final score was 3-2, and Alderney went on to meet Sealand for 5th-place.

Bronze medal...Tamil Eelam thrashed the Raetians
The Seals took only 35 seconds to take the lead when Dan Williams lofted Jack Field’s through-ball over Paul Williams and into the net. Alderney were reduced to 10 men but it took until the 54th minute for the Seals to take advantage, Sam Churchman’s 2nd of the competition making it 2. Roscoe Atkins capitalised on a defensive error to make it 2-1 late on but goalkeeper Will Dukes made some crucial saves to keep the score as it was. Tamil Eelam later eased past Raetia who had a remarkable 3 players sent off. Gvinthan Navaneethakrishnan scored a sensational goal as part of his hat-trick as the Asians made sure of 3rd-place with their record win.

Maiden...Occitania's first silverware
Nearly 600 people witnessed a nervy start to the final. The hosts set up smartly and even tested Jimmy Leban in the 30th minute but it was scoreless at half-time. The Occitans were slowly forcing the issue as the 2nd period wore on and eventually they made the breakthrough when Brice Martinez flicked the ball home stylishly at the far post after a well-worked corner. With 10 minutes to go Lafuente was given too much time at the far post and he slotted past Damyan Petkov for his 8th international goal. The strike sealed the win for Occitania who celebrated late into the night. The competition was a success and the Isle of Man has become the lead candidate to host the 2014 VIVA World Cup.

Monday 1 July 2013

Impressive Saugeais hold Raetia on non-FIFA debut

On a difficult pitch in rainy conditions a spirited Saugeais drew 1-1 with Raetia in front of 400 fans in Gilley on Saturday. Before the game the Raetians, who are preparing for the Tynwald Hill Tournament which starts this week, expressed their confidence going into this match but the awkward playing surface and surprising strength of the hosts saw them settle for a draw.

Close...Saugeais fire over from a free-kick.
Led by captain Kevin Bourcard, who recently won promotion to the French 5th-tier with Morteau Montlebon, the Saugettes attacked from the off and after 20 minutes took the lead when striker Fred Lepaitre finished beyond Patric Theus who was winning his 4th cap. The lead lasted only 10 minutes however as Alsitair Jarvis fired the visitors level when he confidently drove the ball beyond Arnaud Jacquet. Despite being included in numerous squads before it was Jarvis’ 1st appearance for Raetia and he staked a claim for a starting place this week on the Isle of Man.

The teams tired in the 2nd period and both sides struggled to dominate, eventually settling for a goal each. FA Raetia secretary Yacine Azzouz highlighted the conditions “they were better than we thought and we couldn’t play our passing game on the pitch”.

In London both Tamil Eelam and Sealand played low-key warm-up matches ahead of the Tynwald. The former comfortably saw off an under-19 UK Tamil league side in a training match in Southall on Friday, the night before the Sealanders won 8-3 against a club side from the London Turkish Community FA league. After going 2-0 down goals from Daniel Williams, brother Jamie and a Nick Albin brace made it 4-3 at the break before strikes from Josh Killen, Ed Stubbs, Luke Wilson and 2nd for Jamie Williams completed the win.

Match information –

Score: Saugeais 1-1 Raetia

Goals: Fred Lepaitre 20’; Alistair Jarvis 30’.

Saugeais: Jacquet [Fraichot 46’]; Tisserand, Chabod, Marguet, Courlet; Boucard; Mesnier, Faivre-Pierret, Brutillot; Lambert, Lepaitre.

Raetia: Theus; Fontana, Solér, Del Rio, Jeini; Heini Martins, Rodriguez, Kurli, Karamese; Jarvis.