Thursday, 7 June 2018

Northern Cyprus 3 Padania 2

Match 142/17/1592 - Thursday, 7th June 2018 - CONIFA World Cup SF

Northern Cyprus (1) 3 Mehmet 36,84 Turan 80
Padania (2) 2 Ravasi 30 Innocenti 45+2
Estimated attendance: 600
Played at Carshalton Athletic

Admission: £11
Mileage: 93/9,113

A really good game of football replaced the politics that saw my adopted team, Ellan Vallin, walk away from the competition. This semi-final brought together two sides, Northern Cyprus and Padania, from the northern regions of Italy, who both displayed a standard that, from the matches I had seen, Ellan Vallin would have struggled to live with anyway.

The CONIFA World Cup, dubbed “the little World Cup” in the few mentions it got in the national press, had a fascination and a uniqueness that began with a geography lesson and ended with a disappointment that their rule book was also unique.

The fall-out that followed Ellan Vallin’s withdrawal has ended with the Manx IFA being thrown out of CONIFA and facing a social media tirade of sour grapes. With my Manx hat on, and in the everyday world of football administration, they had every justification to be outraged by the governing body’s decision to rule that Barawa, who beat them in the final group match, did not break any rules by fielding a player that had not been included in their squad submitted before the competition began, or indeed been in their squad for their opening game in which they beat Cascadia 4-0.

The argument seems to centre on the statement that the tournament rules allow the organising committee to amend or alter the rules where circumstances require and to this end they had allowed the competing teams to change their squad line-ups after submission. But after the tournament has begun? That does not sound right to me.

Okay, once more with my Manx hat on, perhaps they should not have withdrawn from the competition in the manner in which they did leaving the organisers to throw into the ring a couple of teams to fulfil the placement matches but the whole scenario had left a bad taste in the mouth for all concerned.

Back at Carshalton, and the first semi-final, the large Turkish contingent following Northern Cyprus made up the vast majority of a crowd around the 500 mark (as somebody who likes stats, the absence of an official attendance at any game is a criticism).

The first half-hour was a slugfest with neither side gaining a dominance, the two best chances falling to the Cypriots with Kenan Oshan finding himself clear but shooting over and Halil Turan seeing his near post header clawed away from the line by the Padania goalkeeper Marco Murriero.

On the half-hour mark mark, and marginally against the run of play, Padania opened the scoring when Giacomo Innocenti pulled a pass back from the bye-line for Riccardo Ravasi to score from around 12 yards.

The Italians joy was short-lived with the Cypriots equalising six minutes later following a fine move involving Oshan and Turan down the left opening up an opportunity for Billy Mehmet that he was not going to miss.

The match seemed poised to go into the break on level terms when Padania re-took the lead in time added with another pulled back pass from the left, this time finding Innocenti who shot into the bottom corner.

The second half was largely dominated by the Cypriot side, but that Italian stubbornness in defence was apparent in the Padania side that was also aided by some profligacy from their opponents.

As the time ticked on, the Turkish following refused to be subdued but the were getting distinctly worried until, 10 minutes from time, a corner was headed goalwards but brilliantly saved by Murriero only for the rebound to be headed home by Turan. Cue, undiluted celebration from the bench and supporters alike.

Perhaps the Italian’s resolve had been broken as, three minutes later, a surging run from Ugur Naci Gok set up Mehmet to sweep the ball home. Now the joy verged on hysteria!

The game should have been put to bed when a powerful run from his own half by Salih Say saw him race clear only for his attempted lob to fall comfortably into the hands of the goalkeeper.

A stupid bit of frustration saw a Padania player see red in the closing seconds before the referee’s final whistle allowed the Cypriot party to begin.

No comments: