Sunday, 10 June 2018

Northern Cyprus 0 Kárpátalja 0

Match 143/17/1593 - Saturday, 9th June 2018 - CONIFA World Cup Final

Northern Cyprus (0) 0
Kárpátalja (0) 0
Kárpátalja won 3-2 on penalties
Estimated attendance: 2,500
Played at Enfield Town

Admission: £12
Mileage: 120/9,233

The CONIFA World Cup Final brought the curtain down on season 2017/18 and, almost predictably, after a tournament that has been well received by those that have attended several games, a rather dour final was goalless before Kárpátalja’s goalkeeper, Bela Fejer Csongor, produced three fine saves to win the shoot-out.

The occasion brought a vibrant atmosphere with most of the regions that have competed in the competition adding their own colour. The flares that came from both sets of supporters assembled behind the goals might have been frowned upon by UEFA but here as the smoke at times obscured the goal it was just treated as part of the fun. Mark Clattenburg on one occasion just delayed the taking of a corner for a few seconds whilst the breeze took away the cloud of smoke.

The geography lesson for the day was that Kárpátalja are representative of the Hungarian ethnic minority of western Ukraine.

Both defences restricted opportunities to virtually zero in the first half, the best of which saw a scrambled Kárpátalja effort cleared from the line.

The second half threatened more goalmouth action when Csongor produced a brilliant, one-handed save to deny a header following a Northern Cyprus corner.

As the game continued to be dominated by defences into the closing stages the Cypriots changed their tactics and went for a more direct route that brought chances to snatch the one goal that had become increasingly obvious would win the game.

Ahmet Sonmez headed wastefully over following a free kick with 15 minutes remaining and with just two minutes left on the clock, the Cypriot main man, Billy Mehmet planted a header into the ground with the ball bouncing over the bar.

Simon Baker, who was on his third game of the day had gone 86 games this season without seeing a goalless draw but saw his record fail to make the season’s end with the giant Cypriot striker's glaring miss.

The first two Cypriot penalties were saved from Mehmet (it really wasn't his day) and Yasin Kurt leaving the Kárpátaljians with a 2-0 lead before their most creative players, Zoltan Baksa hit a post and Sandor Istvan saw his effort saved by Hasan Piro. Alex Svedjuk made it 3-2 for Kárpátalja before Halil Turan saw his shot brilliantly saved to spark the Magyar celebrations.

As a tournament the CONIFA has brought a delightful end to the season and would be welcomed back any time. They have definitely missed a trick or two, the lack of senior concessions was a personal irritation whilst having to buy separate full priced tickets for double headers would have put off many a groundhopper. Farewell CONIFA, hope to see you soon.

The good photographs are by Chris Coolbear, the others are not!

Lifetime match total: 2,843
Number of grounds: 323

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