Wednesday 6 June 2018

TLFG: Thursday 7 June

This week TLFG is taking a slightly different format.

That's down to the fact that London is currently hosting the CONIFA World Football Cup and we only know what's going on at short notice so I'm going to aim to produce a fresh guide every other day for the rest of this week to reflect what's going on.

If you haven't heard of it, the tournament is for teams representing 'nations, de-facto nations, regions, minority peoples and sports isolated territories' which are not recognised by FIFA.

Competitors in the 16-team tournament include Northern Cyprus, Panjab, Tamil Eelam and Tibet with every continent bar South America represented.

There have been one or two familiar faces among the squads and former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg has officiated at some of the games.

Tuvalu will be hoping to avoid the dreaded 15th/16th place play-off
Also on the refereeing side of things, a green card has been introduced and is shown to players guilty of dissent or diving - it will lead to them being immediately substituted.

Matches are taking place at 10 different non-league grounds in and around London with the final at Enfield Town on 9 June.

Full information about fixtures and tickets can be found here.

There is also a souvenir programme for the tournament which can be ordered in advance and also a range of merchandise - as CONIFA is a not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers, all purchases will make a big difference.

So far, I've seen Abkhazia draw 2-2 with Northern Cyprus - a result which sent the reigning champions into the placement competition and Matabeleland's 3-1 win over Tuvalu. Next up for me is one of the semis on Thursday and the final on Saturday.

'Two Men In Search Of The Beautifual Game' take in a group game at Enfield Town

The big news since I last wrote is the unholy row which blew up after Ellan Vannin got knocked out in the final group game by Barawa who they then accused of having fielded and ineligible player.

After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, CONIFA rejected their appeal and ultimately Ellan Vannin quit the tournament in protest. As a result, a couple of sides have been drafted in at short notice to play friendlies and fill the gaps in the fixture list.

I know many of you have made it to games too and there have been some great photos appearing on social media. We're also lucky enough to have a video piece from our friends at 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' too which I've attached above.

The atmosphere at these games has been great with singing, dancing, flag waving, drum beating and even some naughty smoke bombs which we all, not so secretly, love.

Copies of the official programme can be ordered now

There are eight matches in the tournament on Thursday with several grounds hosting two games so a double, triple or even quadruple header is possible. The only realistic possibility of this is if you stay in south London and shuttle between Bromley, Sutton and Carshalton but a car or bike will probably be required to see four games.

As always, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed. Also, please let me know if anything is wrong or missing.

Details on all of this week's games can be found on the following match maps. If you've never used them before, please note that when there is more than one match at a specific ground you'll only be able to see individual match pins if you zoom right in. If you don't, the pins obscure each other and you might miss them. To avoid this, you can also scroll down the list of games on the drop down menu at the top of the map page to make sure you get all the information.


Thursday 7 June

CONIFA World Football Cup Semi-Final Stage

If you've come late to this, you might not be aware that after the group stage no-one gets entirely eliminated. Those who finished in the top two in their groups move forward to the quarter-finals in the traditional sense while the remaining eight, rather than go home, move into a placement competition to see who finishes in 9th-16th.

With the quarter-finals completed, all the losers from those games move into the placement competition for 5th-8th, while the losers of the first round of placement games move into a new contest for 13th-16th. This guarantees that each team which makes the journey to London plays six games and gets their money's worth.

Tickets are £12 adults, £6 U18s per game on the gate. Seeing three games at up to three different grounds should be possible on Thursday with matches at Bromley, Sutton and Carshalton taking place at 12pm, 3pm, 5pm and 8pm. If you're prepared to shave off a few minutes at the end or start of a game, squeezing in a fourth could be done as well if you go to the 3pm game at Sutton and the 5pm one at Carshalton. Here is a rundown of what's on:


Northern Cyprus v Padania @5pm - after a few mismatches in the earlier rounds, the semis have thrown up a couple of really heavyweight fixtures. The first sees the big two from Europe go head-to-head for what should be an intriguing game. Having already knocked out CONIFA's top ranked side Panjab, Padania would now appear to be the tournament favourites. The Italian side have scored 19 goals and conceded just two from their four games so far and are looking formidable. Northern Cyprus sit just behind Padania in the rankings and have a score to settle after losing to them in the European Football Cup Final last year on home turf. That game went to penalties and although the island side have only won two of their four games so far, it's likely to be tight again

Karpatalya v Szekely Land @8pm - the other game is a derby between ethnic Hungarians from Ukraine and Romania respectively. The former only came into the tournament as late replacements for Felvidek but have more than held their own, coming top of a group containing Northern Cyprus and reigning champions Abkhazia. On Tuesday they beat Cascadia 3-1 to make it to the last four. Szekely Land finished second to Padania in the group stage meaning they had to face a tough match against Group D winners Western Armenia. The side from the Caucasus region had a quarter-final to forget and got thrashed 4-0 setting up this mouthwatering tie where the support should be loud and colourful

Placement Semi-Finals for 5th-8th place

Barawa v Panjab @3pm - having been involved in the 'ineligible' player row with Ellan Vannin the day before, Barawa probably went into their quarter-final with Northern Cyprus in unsettled mood. The performance was way below par for the team who had won Group A and they got demolished 8-0. For the top-ranked side, Panjab have had a disappointing campaign. Stuttering through the group phase with one win, one draw and one defeat, it was no real shock when Padania knocked them out on Tuesday. They should still have too much for Barawa

Cascadia v Western Armenia @3pm - little was really expected of either of these two ahead of the tournament, certainly not by the bookmakers, so both have done really well to have got this far. Reports suggest this could produce a real clash of styles with Cascadia playing some good football at times whilst Western Armenia are, shall we say, a little more disruptive in the way they go about things

Placement Semi-Finals 9-12th place

Tibet v Kabylia @12pm - after a pretty horrific group stage, it's a credit to both teams that they've avoided the 15th/16th place play-off. In Tibet's case that's because Ellan Vannin decided to pull out over the 'ineligible' player row, giving the Asian side a bye to this stage. However, the North African side managed to squeak past Matabeleland on penalties to guarantee they won't finish last. Both sides have had strong support in previous games so there could be a reasonable attendance for this early kick-off

Abkhazia v United Koreans in Japan @6pm - these sides were somewhat unlucky not to make the quarter-finals after coming third in what turned out to be very competitive groups. Put up against two of the leakiest defences in the tournament in the opening round of the placement competition, Abkhazia and UKIJ lashed in 11 goals between them on Tuesday as they set up this match. Technically they are both decent sides and this should produce an entertaining game

Placement Semi-Finals 13th-16th place

Tamil Eelam v Tuvalu @12pm - having scored just one and conceded a whopping 38 goals between them, these two really have been the whipping boys of the tournament. However, one of them will avoid playing in the 15th/16th place play-off. I watched Tuvalu play on Sunday and they weren't that bad, taking the one goal they have scored very well. I'm backing them them to progress

Matabeleland v Chagos Islands @12pm - with Ellan Vannin having pulled out of the tournament on Tuesday, CONIFA managed to hastily arrange a Turkish All-Stars XI to play Tibet in a friendly and on Thursday they've managed to get Chagos Islands, a CONIFA member, to fill in here. This is officially being classed as a friendly and is being staged so that ticket holders have a game to watch. Presumably, win or lose, Matabeleland will progress to the 13th/14th place play-off. UPDATE (07/06/18): it was announced on Wednesday that Liverpool legend Bruce Grobbelaar will start in goal for Matabeleland in this game


If you're going to see a game, whether you're a local or a visitor, please let me know what you've been up to. If you're interested in reviewing a ground in the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries. I do not charge for this advice like some other sites so don't hold back!

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