Monday 24 March 2014

Groups drawn for maiden ConIFA World Football Cup

The draw for the first ConIFA World Football Cup took place today with hosts Sápmi meeting Occitania and Abkhazia in group B.

The 12 competing teams
VIVA World Cup holders Kurdistan are alongside Aramean Suryoye and Tamil Eelam in group A, with group C to be contested by Padania, Quebec and Darfur.

Group D, arguably the easiest looking pool, will feature Zanzibar, Nagorno-Karabakh and Ellan Vannin.

The hosts squad is anticipated to be extremely strong  with Club Brugge defender Tom Høgli expected to play. The Lapland side have meet the Occitans twice before, most recently in 2012 when they lost 3-2.

Group A is an all Asian affair which will be dominated by the Kurds and 2008 VIVA World Cup runners-up Aramean Suryoye. The sides met in 2008 drawing 0-0.

In Group C none of the teams have previous meetings but 2012 VIVA World Cup whipping boys Darfur could be on the end of some heavy scorelines against the powerful duo of Padania and Quebec.

The final group is perhaps the most open with each side likely to fancy their chances of making the quarter-finals. The full fixture list will be published next week.

After the draw Aramean Suryoye FA president Melke Alan said "it's tough but it's good to play the hard teams [Kurdistan]". Sapmi FA president Håkan Kuorak was equally positive saying "I expect us to be better than Abkhazia for sure".

Full draw - 

Group A: Kurdistan, Aramean Suryoye & Tamil Eelam.
Group B: Sapmi, Occitania & Abkhazia.
Group C: Padania, Quebec & Darfur.
Group D: Zanzibar, Nagorno-Karabakh & Ellan Vannin.

Friday 21 March 2014

Monaco confirm May trip to Rome for Vatican friendly

Monaco will travel to Rome on May 10th to face the Vatican City as the two microstates meet for the fourth time.

Both teams after the game last summer
The game will take place at 20:00 at the Stadio Petriano in Pontificio Oratorio San Pietro, the Vatican's sport complex, which plays host to Vatican domestic matches.

With no pitch within the Holy See the smallest nation in the world play ‘home’ games in Rome with both a 2-1 defeat to Monaco in 2011 and 0-0 draw 9 years previous coming at the Stadio Pio XII.

The Vatican travelled to the French Riviera for a first away game last June as they went down 2-0 after first-half goals from Morgan Escarras and Eric Fissore.  

Monaco have stepped up their non-FIFA activity over the last 18 months playing games, both of which ended in defeat, against Raetia and Provence.

The win over the Vatican was their last outing and they will travel to the Isle of Man in April as the opposition for the newly formed Manx Ellan Vannin team.

The Monegasque also have plans for an August game with Sealand and potentially Seborga after the Italian micronation recently founded a new football organisation. 

Thursday 20 March 2014

Gibraltar to host Malta in June

Gibraltar will host Malta in a friendly on June 4th as the new UEFA members look to prepare for their first European Championship qualification campaign later this year.

The sides will meet for the first time
The game will likely take place at the Victoria Stadium which was the venue for Gibraltar’s back-to-back defeats to the Faroe Islands and Estonia earlier this month.

With the Estádio Algarve in Faro, Portugal Gibraltar's home ground for the European Championship qualifiers there's a chance the game could be played there.

The non-FIFA side travel to Tallinn on May 26th before the Maltese, who lost 2-0 to Albania in March, travel to the Mediterranean for a first meeting with Gibraltar. 

The Gibraltar Football Association no doubt see the game as an opportunity to gain a positive result on the back of the disappointing results during the last international break.

Wednesday 19 March 2014

ConIFA World Football Cup draw set for Monday

The draw for the maiden ConIFA World Football Cup takes place on Monday in Sweden with the new non-FIFA governing body set to reveal the groups for the 12 competing teams.

The projected seeding for the draw
ConIFA World President Per-Anders Blind will conduct the draw in the southern Sami city of Östersund, which will stage the finals, alongside organisation CEO Johan Bexelius.

Of the 12 participants 8 have played at a VIVA World Cup before with Quebec, Ellan Vannin, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh the exceptions.

Hosts Sapmi, winners of the first VIVA World Cup in 2006, will be in pot one after each competing association agreed on a seeding system which will see 3 groups of 4 play out before quarter-finals, semi’s and placement games.

2012 VIVA World Cup winners Kurdistan are expected to join them in the first pot alongside 3-time VIVA champions Padania and CAF members Zanzibar.

Pot two is expected to contain the Quebecois, 2013 Tynwald Hill Tournament winners Occitania and 2008 VIVA World Cup runners up Aramean Suryoye.

Nagorno-Karabakh will make up the second seeds despite the Azerbaijan FA complaining to FIFA about their participation.

The final pot is set to include Abkhazia, Darfur, Tamil Eelam and Ellan Vannin. The latter host Monaco in their first international in April and members of the Manx Independent Football Association will travel to Sweden for the draw.

Kurdistan, Aramean Suryoye and the hosts will also send delegations to the draw which is set to be conducted in the Jämtkraft Arena, home of Swedish second-tier side Östersunds FK, at 14:00 local time.

The tournament, which has in effect replaced the N.F.-Board’s VIVA World Cup, is set to be the largest non-FIFA event in history. It begins on June 1st and concludes on the 8th. We will be covering Monday’s draw via our Twitter service.

Monday 17 March 2014

Plans taking shape for Micronesian Games on Pohnpei

The lineup for football at the 2014 Micronesian Games, which will be hosted on Pohnpei in July, is taking shape with 5 teams expected to feature.

The Pohnpei state squad after training last week
The Micronesian region is arguably the least developed and documented in terms of the sport and the event, set to take place from 20th to the 27th, will be the first football tournament in the games since 2001. 

3 of the states that make up Micronesia, Yap, Chuuk and Pohnpei, contested that last event and the sides will again be in action this summer. Paul Watson, former manager of Pohnpei and Micronesia, has been on the island the last month preparing the team.

Palau are also expected to send a team. The island nation of just 20,000 people has only fielded a national side once when they lost 12-1 to the Northern Mariana Islands and 15-2 to Guam at the 1998 Micronesian Games.  

FA president and national team coach Charles Mitchell will draw his side from 15 or so Palauans playing in the PFA Adult League and at high school. The PFA hope to join East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) after communication with the OFC (Oceania Football Confederation) broke down.

EAFF members Guam, by far the strongest Micronesian team and the only FIFA side, were going to send a ‘C’ team but have since decided not to as their factious relationship with the Guam National Olympic Committee (GNOC) continues. 

The Guam FA isn't tied to their Olympic Committee in any way and they select players who wouldn't meet Olympic standards as there is no such thing as a Guam passport. The rift means there will be no football team at the games.

Despite this the Northern Mariana Islands contacted the tournament organisers last week enquiring about entering.  Also part of the EAFF the CNMI team made their Asian Football Confederation debut earlier this year having become associate members in 2009.

The location for the new pitch in Palikir
The level of opposition will probably suit the Blue Ayuyu’s more but they await news of the 2015 EAFF preliminary qualifiers, which are scheduled for July to August, before committing to sending a team.

OFC associate members Kiribati hoped to send a team but it seems increasingly unlikely due to a lack of finance. There was no interest from the Marshall Islands or Nauru.

The likely group of 5 will play out over the week at the College of Micronesia campus in Palikir. A new pitch is currently being built after the Japanese Embassy in Micronesia gave a grant of $120,000. 

The top 4 sides will then meet in the semi-finals before placement matches for the gold, silver and bronze medal positions. 

Saturday 15 March 2014

Guernsey to meet Jersey after 4-0 win on Alderney

Muratti holders Guernsey scored 3 goals in the opening 25 minutes as they ran out 4-0 winners at plucky Alderney in the semi final today.

Guernsey FC defender Mackay scored the 2nd
Alderney made a positive start to the game and in the 9th minute Ross Benfield forced a save from Tom Creed, who was making his debut.

However in the 11th minute the visitors took the lead when Guernsey FC midfielder Tom de la Mare fired beyond Jamie Leband.

Guernsey kept up the pressure and in the 18th minute they doubled their lead as Angus Mackay took advantage of some slack defending.

With the visitors cruising Leband was forced into some smart saves. However with 25 minutes on the clock it was 3 when defender Tom Martin, making his international debut, finished coolly.

The windy conditions were having an effect on play and despite some further Guernsey pressure it was 3-0 at the break.

It took the Muratti holders 9 minutes to add another goal in the second half. Belgrave striker Craig Young, who has scored in Guernsey’s last 2 Muratti games, made it 4-0 with a fine solo goal.

The relentless attacks continued and Mackay saw his effort splendidly tipped over by Leaband in the 69th minute before Dave Rihoy shaved the bar with 14 minutes to go.

Despite the permanent pressure Alderney held out for a respectable defeat, their best Muratti effort since 2010 and a best result against Guernsey since 2007.

The holders will travel to Jersey in May for the final. For Alderney a meeting with Sealand over the summer is likely.

Match information -
Score: Alderney 0 – 4 Guernsey

Goals: Tom de la Mare 11’, Angus Mackay 18’, Tom Martin 25’ Craig Young 54’

Alderney XI: Leband; Aldcroft, Foster, Vizard, Conancen, Atkins; Johns [Lawrence 71’], Benfield [Olliver 58’], McCormack; Stretton [Blackham 66’]; McCulloch.

Guernsey XI: Creed; D Martin [Larkin 59’], Mackay, Geall, T Martin; de la Mare, Bourgaize, Marley; Pereira, Young, Rihoy.

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Alderney prepare for Muratti visit of weakened Guersney

A weakened Guernsey team travel to Alderney on Saturday for the annual Muratti semi-final.
The sides last met in the 2012 semi final

Steve Sharman’s visitors, who have won the last 2 finals against Jersey, have named 6 players from club side Guernsey FC including Angus Mackay who will captain the team.

8 members of the squad are uncapped including 5 from Priaulx League side North. Striker Craig Young scored also plays at North and scored in last year’s final as well as the previous meeting with Alderney in 2012 which ended up 7-0 to the  visitors.

Simon Geall also scored in that Muratti semi-final trouncing and will feature on Saturday. Aside from the Muratti Guernsey have played little representative football since Guernsey FC were formed in 2011.

A side far from full strength lost out to both Jersey and the Isle of Man at the FA International Shield in Gibraltar in June 2012 a year after losing in the final of the Island Games on the Isle of Wight.

The club side, currently chasing promotion from the Ryman Division One South (8th tier) in England, have left the representative side in second place in terms of footballing priority with large crowds watching the islands best players week in week out.

On the other hand their hosts have, somewhat surprisingly, become active in the non-FIFA scene ever since hosting Sealand in August 2012.

Last year the squad travelled to the Isle of Man for the Tywnald Hill Tournament and were competitive in a group containing club side hosts St Johns United and N.F.-Board members Raetia.

Having narrowly lost 3-2 to the Swiss side they then fell to a 2-1 defeat to the Sealanders in the 5th-place match. The island play as a club in the Guernsey 2nd-tier and warmed up nicely for the Muratti with a 6-1 win over Centrals last weekend.

Alderney at the Tynwald
Alderney lost last year’s semi 9-2 to Jersey, the first time they’d scored more than 1 goal in any game since 1961. Astonishingly they’ve won the Muratti before - a 1-0 win over Guernsey in 1920.

However their all-time record since their maiden Muratti appearance in 1907 is played 107, won 2, drawn 1 and lost 102, with the most recent of those victories coming in the 2003 Island Games.

Captain Andy Lawrence, on the subject of the weakened visiting team, told us “you could look at it as a bit disrespectful towards the Muratti but they have pumped a lot of money into GFC so I guess that is their priority now”.

He went on to say “we have a young squad which is pleasing. We are looking at the Island games in Jersey next year and hopefully we can arrange a few games against Sealand”.

All bar 3 of the Alderney squad are island-based. Defender Jason Atkins, striker Josh McCulloch and Ross Benfield all play amateur football in the UK with the latter pair studying at university.

Star player Josh Concanen plays semi-professionally in England for Tiverton Town, the same level as Guernsey FC, but was not released by his club.

After the game last year Jersey complained about having to travel to Alderney but Lawrence explained “it's crucial for the semi to stay here.  We don't have the money they have and that date is a huge part of our calendar - without it we would really struggle to survive”.

Wednesday 5 March 2014

Improved Gibraltar slip to 2-0 Estonia defeat

Gibraltar produced a vastly improved performance as they were unlucky to lose 2-0 to Estonia this evening in only their 3rd game as a UEFA member.
Gibraltar competed well

Liam Walker, who missed the loss on Saturday, demonstrated his talent in the 9th minute when his quick feet beat 2 Estonia defenders before he curled a fine dipping effort just over Sergei Pareiko's goal.

Despite the positive start the visitors took the lead a minute later when Konstantin Vassiljev produced a fine through ball which David Artell missed, and Dmitri Kruglov easily prodded home for his 3rd Estonia goal.
Unlike the game on Saturday Gibraltar kept their heads up and in the 17th minute Segei Pareiko did well do deny Joseph Chipolina from distance.
8 minutes after that and Chipolina again went close, this time firing a clever Yogan Santos cross over the bar. 

The chance of the half for the hosts came in the 37th minute. Chipolina played in Ryan Casciaro down the right and his low cross found Robert Guilling who blasted over from close range.
The teams respect the anthems
Half time substitute Kyle Casciaro shot wide early in the second period as the non-FIFA side continued to press.
However the game lulled with both teams failing to break each other down as the half went on.
With 20 minutes to go Vassiljev went close from distance before Gibraltar's chance of the game, courtesy of a powerful Joseph Chipolina effort, was expertly saved by Pareiko.
In the 80th minute the Estonians secured the victory when substitute Sander Puri picked out Rimo Hunt inside the box and the Kazakhstan-based striker hit a fine first-time effort to make it 2-0.

Gibraltar will have one more friendly before the 2016 European Championship qualifiers get underway. They will travel to Tallinn for a rematch on May 26th.

Match information -
Score: Gibraltar 0 - 2 Estonia
Goals: Dmitri Kruglov 11', Rimo Hunt 80'
Gibraltar XI: Perez; R. Casciaro, Santos, Artell, Higginbotham [Reoch 88'], R. Chipolina; Payas [J-P Duarte 67'], J. Chipolina [Sergeant 90'], Guilling [D. Duarte 61']; Walker; Priestley [K. Casciaro 46'].

Kosovo draw with Haiti in historic first FIFA friendly

In their first friendly to be approved by FIFA Kosovo drew 0-0 with Haiti in difficult conditions in Mitrovica this afternoon.
Conditions were difficult in Mitrovica

Both teams struggled to get used to the boggy pitch during the early stages of the game, which were scrappy.

The Haitians were the first to generate a clear opening in the 27th minute but in a 4 on 3 situation Kervens Belfort's shot was blocked by Avni Pepa.

The hosts went straight up the other end and threatened, Albert Bunjaku only just beaten to Ilir Azemi's through ball by goalkeeper Dominique Jean-Zéphirin.

Kosovo were cranking up the pressure and had a great chance to take the lead just before the half hour mark.

Another fine Azemi pass found Shpëtim Hasani in space inside the box but the Örebro player, in an attempt to find Bunjaku, squared the ball straight to Mechack Jérôme.

Kristian Nushi fired over from distance before Azemi missed the best chance of the first half in the 38th minute. 

Enis Alushi burst down the left wing and put in a dangerous ball which Bunjaku missed. However Hasani, at the back post, pulled the ball back for Azemi but the Greuther Fürth striker saw his effort superbly blocked by Frantz Bertin.

The second half, much like the start of the first period, began in a cagey fashion with few chances created by either team.

With less than 15 minutes to go substitute Faton Toski, who plays in the 2. Bundesliga with FSV Frankfurt, curled a free kick inches wide of the top corner of Jean-Zéphirin's goal.
The Kosovo team

With both sides making a number of substitutes the game eventually died out though Jean-Eudes Maurice tested Samir Ujkani in the 89th minute.

Liridon Krasniqi went close at the other end in stoppage time but the non-FIFA side will ultimately be happy with a draw, as will new Haiti manager Marc Collat who could easily have lost his first game in charge.

Feasibly the Kosovars could be in action again this year. Albania, who only have one game lined up during the May/June international break, would be the most realistic option.

Match information -

Score: Kosovo 0 -0 Haiti

Kosovo XIUjkani; Pepa [Rexhepi 65'], Sadiku [Krasniqi 71'], Hasani, Raskaj; Perdedaj, Nushi, Gashi, Alushi; Bunjaku [Toski 71']; Azemi [Kastrati 57']

Saturday 1 March 2014

Gibraltar crash back down to earth with heavy Faroe Islands loss

The reality of UEFA international football dawned on Gibraltar tonight as they crashed to a 4-1 defeat at home to the Faroe Islands despite taking the lead through captain Roy Chipolina.
The teams line up for the anthems
The Faroes got off to a strong start, which would be the case during the whole first half, and after 5 minutes 19-year old Aalborg striker Gilli Sørensen headed wide from a good position.

The visitors were enjoying most of the ball but fell behind after 21 minutes when captain Roy Chipolina, who scored against the Faroese in 2011, was left unmarked at the far post to head home Joesph Chipolina's corner.

The goal was Gibraltar's first as a UEFA member but they failed to build on their lead and only 5 minutes alter former Newcastle United striker Jóan Símun Edmundsson equalised with a splendid left-footed effort from 25-yards out.

The game completely turned in the 31st minute. Captain Fróði Benjaminsen played in Christian Holst and the Silkeborg player saw his deflected shot fly beyond Jordan Perez to give the Faroes the lead with his fourth international goal.

Gibraltar were all at sea, stark contrast to their solid performance against Slovakia in November, and Ryan Casciaro cleared an effort off the line before the visitors were given the chance to extend their lead from the penalty spot in the 40th minute.

Joeseph Chipolina fouled Edmundsson but Benjaminsen, winning his 80th cap, fired the ball over the bar. It was a let off for the non-FIFA side who were lucky to go in at half time just 2-1 down after Holst missed 2 good opportunities.

Reece Styche challenges for the ball
Allen Bula made 3 changes at the break but the Faroes Islands heaped more misery on the hosts in the 59th minute when Hallur Hansson brought the ball down inside the box and beat Roy Chipolina before finishing past Perez. 
There was a rare chance for Gibraltar in the 65th minute when Aaron Payas, winning his first cap, volleyed wide. However it got worse for the hosts in 68th minute when Holst headed home Edmundsson's clever cross to make it 4.
Substitute Jean-Paul Duarte came close with 5 minutes to go but ultimately the night was one of disappointment and learning for Gibraltar.

They will be in action again in 4 days when they host Estonia, whose manager Magnus Pehrsson was in the stand today, with another 20:00 kick off. 

Match information -

Score: Gibraltar 1-4 Faroe Islands

Goals: Gibraltar - Roy Chipolina 21'. Faroe Islands - Jóan Símun Edmundsson 26', Christian Holst 31', 68', Hallur Hansson 59'

Gibraltar XI: Perez; Sergeant [K. Casciaro 46'], J.Chipolina [Artell 86'], Higginbotham, R Chipolina; R.Casciaro; Lopez [J-P. Duart 57'], Payas, D. Duarte [Priestly 46'], Guilling [Santos 46']; Styche [Hernandez 71'].