Monday, 4 June 2018

TLFG: Tuesday 5 June 2018

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 Ellan Vannin (aka the Isle of Man), Northern Cyprus, Panjab, Tamil Eelam and Tibet with every continent bar South America represented.
The Conifa World Football Cup is coming told London - find out more
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.

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.

Northern Cyprus frantically defend as Abkhazia push for a late winner
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.

I know many of you made it to games too and there have been some great photos appearing on social media.

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

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are eight matches in the tournament on Tuesday with several grounds hosting two games so a doubleheader is very possible but jumping between grounds will be tough as they're too far apart. The only realistic possibility of this will be between Bromley and Sutton but a car or bike will be required to have any chance.

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.

MATCH MAP 5 JUNE





Tuesday 5 June

CONIFA World Football Cup Quarter-Final Stage

With the group stage complete, the competition effectively splits into two parts. 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. This guarantees that each team which makes the journey to London plays six games and gets their money's worth.

Tickets are £12 per adult per game on the gate. Seeing two games in a day is still very easy to do but you'll probably have to stay in one ground to watch them as the distances between grounds, especially if extra-time is needed, should be too far. Here is a rundown of what's on, including a brief profile of each team:

Quarter-Finals

Barawa v Northern Cyprus @3pm - as hosts and probably the best supported side respectively, for the sake of the tournament it was good to see these two make it through. Barawa caused a bit of an upset by beating Ellan Vannin on Sunday to top the group so will come into this with some confidence. Northern Cyprus were runners-up in what turned out to be a tough group and should start as favourites here

Padania v Panjab @3pm - with the only 100% record left in the competition, Italian side Padania are looking like strong favourites for the title. With 19 scored and just two conceded from their three group games, they're going to take some beating. Panjab came into the tournament at the top of CONIFA's rankings and were runners-up in the last WFC and after thrashing Kabilya 8-0 in their first game it looked like they were going to challenge again. However, they followed this up with a loss and a draw to squeak through ahead of United Koreans in Japan. They're going to have to raise their game considerably to make the semis

Cascadia v Karpatalya @6pm - representing a region in the Pacific North West of North America, Cascadia have done incredibly well to get this far. With little experience of playing together prior to the tournament, it was no surprise that they lost comfortably to Ellan Vannin in their opener. However, come the end of the weekend, they'd won back-to-back games including a 6-0 trouncing of Tamil Eelam to dramatically edge out Ellan Vannin on goal difference. As late replacements for Felvidek, no-one knew what to expect of Karpatalya. Made up of ethnic Hungarians based in Ukraine, they surprised quite a few by storming through Group B to finish above Northern Cyprus and Abkhazia dropping only two points in the process - the smart money would appear to be on them

Szekely Land v Western Armenia @6pm- I really like the look of this match partly because it features Western Armenia who I tipped last week to be dark horses for the title at 25/1. Harutyun Vardanyan's side impressed in Group D with some 'professional' performances to thwart the likes of Panjab who struggled to get to grips with them. I also noted that Szekely Lane were 'a team on the up' and they played some good stuff in their first two games before easing off and losing quite comfortably to Padania on Sunday. They also have some great ultras who were out in force on Saturday with their smoke bombs and drums - hopefully they do midweek games too

Placement Quarter-Finals for 9th-16th place

Ellan Vannin v Tibet @3pm - at the start of play on Sunday Ellan Vannin (aka Isle of Man) were one of only three teams with a 100% record so looked like certs to make the quarter-finals. However, they lost to Barawa and Cascadia thrashed Tamil Eelam 6-0 to achieve a huge swing in goal difference to edge them out by a tiny margin. The disappointment for all connected with the Manx team must have been huge as many had them as pre-tournament favourites. Finishing ninth is now the best they can hope for but they'll need to win three games to secure it. The first match is against Tibet who, despite huge support, have been one of the whipping boys of the tournament and they'll do well to avoid finishing last. UPDATE (05/06/18) - Ellan Vannin have withdrawn from the tournament because of a dispute over an 'ineligible' player fielded against them by Barawa earlier in the competition

Matabeleland v Kabylia @3pm - these two conceded goals by the bucket load in the group stage (12 each) but still managed to pick up four points between them. Matabeleland have won a lot of friends and generated a lot of media interest with their crowdfunding campaign to get them to the tournament and the joyous way they've played their games and celebrated afterwards despite some heavy defeats. They also include Liverpool legend Bruce Grobbelaar among their squad and although he's primarily a coach, he almost made it on as a sub on Sunday. Their supporters also sing and dance their way through games adding that bit extra to the experience. Fellow African side Kabylia managed only a point from their three games but had arguably a tougher group - it will be interesting to see how this goes

Tamil Eelam v Abkhazia @6pm - like Tibet, Tamil Eelam have really struggled at this tournament. Another team to have conceded 12 goals, they are one of three teams to end the group stage with zero points. To say another defeat here looks certain is an understatement. Abkhazia are the reigning WFC champions and it's a surprise to see them having to play placement football at such an early stage. I can only see this going one way

Tuvalu v United Koreans in Japan @6pm - with the worst record in the tournament, Tuvalu are living up to their rank outsider status very well indeed. Scoring one and conceding 15, the Pacific Islanders have found life tough in London. Having watched them on Sunday against Matabeleland they didn't seem that bad although a number of their players looked far more suited to rugby which the region is far more famous for. UKIJ on the other hand were the only side in the group stage who drew every game and from what I hear were technically good and well disciplined but struggled to create chances (scoring only one) - this looks  likes being the game when they get to cut loose

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GET INVOLVED
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.

NEED HELP?
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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