BY MAX HALL
Supporters in Rotherhithe were treated to a feast of football on the final day of the Paddy Power CONIFA Football World Cup.
The tournament for the non-FIFA waifs and strays of world football yesterday visited St John’s Sports Ground for the second time, with two fascinating placement matches ending in penalty shoot-outs.
First up were neutrals’ favourites Tibet and the United Koreans of Japan – representing Zainichi Koreans, whose presence in Japan dates from the Second World War when their homeland was under Japanese rule.
The oriental rivals served up a feast of slick-passing football as Tenzing Yougyal put Tibet in front in the 20thminute, starting the move by sending Kelsang Dhuntsok down the right before arriving in the box to rifle home after the Zainichi failed to clear their lines.
A sumptuous ball out of defence by Korea star man Suhyeon Mun six minutes later saw Yongju Shin round Tibet keeper Sangay only to be denied by a superb goalline block by Tenzing Donden, and that set the pattern for the remainder of the match, with the second half an exercise in attack versus defence.
Sangay raced off his line and spread-eagled himself to deny Shin in the 62ndminute before thwarting Tongsoung Lee two minutes later and a Tongjun Lee header in the 71stminute reared up and hit the underside of Sangay’s crossbar before Korea’s pressure finally paid off.
The Zainichi claimed a more-than-deserved equaliser eight minutes from time when substitute Yeongjang Byun’s inswinging corner from the left beat everyone to be glanced in by Korea captain Mincheol Son at the far post.
Sangay brilliantly saved Tibet again seconds later as he somehow blocked Byun’s effort and Yongki Shin failed to connect cleanly with a difficult chance from point-blank range as the game went to penalties, where it was Korea keeper Hyogeun Lim’s turn to shine.
The Zainichi shot-stopper leaped high to his right to brilliantly claw away Tenzing Dhondup’s kick after three successful penalties and with Sunji Kim keeping his nerve, Lim plunged to save a weak effort from Tibet substitute Tashi Samphel, allowing Tongsoung Lee to secure victory – and 11thplace in the 16-team tournament – with a perfect left-footed penalty into the roof of the net.
The fifth-place decider looked set to be a more humdrum affair as a largely West Midlands-based Panjab team raced into a 3-0 lead inside 34 minutes against the Cascadia side representing the north-west US and south-west Canada.
Amar Purewal held off his marker and laid the ball off for Rajpal Uirk to give Panjab an 18th-minute lead and the goalscorer turned provider six minutes later, his perfect ball sitting up nicely for Nathan Minhas to take a touch and fire an unstoppable effort past the exposed Alejandro De La Torre in the Cascadia goal.
Minhas’ second appeared to have put the result beyond doubt but Cascadia – who epitomised the endearingly ramshackle nature of the competition by turning up without their kit – shuddered a post as half time approached before Hector Morales buried a header past Panjab keeper Raajan Gill in the 45thminute.
With their strip having arrived by the interval, Cascadia swapped training bibs with handwritten numbers scrawled on them for pristine white shirts and were a team transformed with Morales, of NPSL side AFC Ann Arbor, running the show.
It was 3-2 nine minutes after the restart when Morales and Calum Ferguson ran onto a ball over the Panjab defence and the former drew Gill before rolling the ball square for Elgin City striker Ferguson to tap in.
Fittingly the duo combined again for the equaliser as Morales went on another barnstorming run on the hour and found Scottish League Two forward Ferguson, who beat Gill with a tremendous dipping effort.
De La Torre did well to deny Panjab substitute Kamawit Singh before the crowd were treated to their second penalty shoot-out of the day.
Things started inauspiciously as the first four penalties drew a blank, Gill saving twice and De La Torre once with Panjab’s Sufyan Zin belting his effort onto the bar.
Fortunately, Panjab’s Uirk finally found the target to start a run of seven consecutive spot-kicks which took the shoot-out into sudden death and was ended when Cascadia substitute Keaton Levock’s limp effort was fielded by a delighted Gill.
- Kárpátalja, representing Hungarians in Ukraine’s Carpathian Ruthenia region, won the title after defeating Northern Cyprus 3-2 on penalties yesterday at Enfield Town after a goalless draw.
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.