Quarter-final review – 2018 CONIFA World Football Cup

With the quarter-final matches now complete, we look back on the first knockout round of the 2018 CONIFA World Football Cup in London...

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On a gloriously sunny day in London, the 2018 CONIFA World Football Cup played out its quarter-final round.

The structure of the tournament is merciless for the participating teams, and the last eight followed hot on the heels of a closely contested group stage, with little respite for players or coaches. Several heavyweights found themselves matched up, with a couple of outright favourites facing off against one another earlier in the competition than they might have liked.

Here’s how things went down.

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Padania 2-0 Panjab

At Larges Lane in Bracknell, many observers’ picks for the trophy, Padania, took on Panjab.

The clash lived up to expectations, with both teams showing their intent early on. Padania arguably created more during the first half, and started the second well, having a shot cleared off the line by Aaron Minhas. Then, after 59 minutes, following a foul on former Lazio star Marius Stankevicius, Giacomo Innocenti converted to give the Italian side the lead.

The game became slightly fractious, with a number of bookings dealt out and Panjab pressing hard to get back in the tie. But Padania eventually killed off the game with a goal from Nicolo Pavan after some excellent work in the buildup by Innocenti.

Padania will take some stopping.

Barawa 0-8 Northern Cyprus

A game that was expected to be a tight contest proved as much until the early stages of the second half. Uğur Gök had put Northern Cyprus ahead after 15 minutes, but the tie was very evenly balanced at 1-0 going into the half-time break.

After the interval, however, the Northern Cypriots kicked into overdrive, rattling in three goals in the space of eight minutes to effectively put the match to bed. Their lead allowed them to hit Barawa on the counter for the remainder of the tie, and they looked a dangerous outfit when breaking.

The scoreline was a little harsh on Barawa, but this is a very strong Northern Cyprus side. Led by former Ireland Under 21 international Billy Mehmet, they are organised and technically proficient. If things go their way, they will be a tough side to beat. Awaiting them in the semis will be Padania, a contest that could be one of the most intriguing in the entire tournament.

Kárpátalja 1-3 Cascadia

A captivating match at Sutton’s Gander Green Lane saw a talented Kárpátalja side triumph over a game Cascadian outfit who had won much of the neutral support at the tournament.

The first period was a cagey affair, with the busy and technical Kárpátaljans looking perhaps the more likely to break the deadlock early on. But Cascadia held out and acquitted themselves well in the second portion of the opening half, creating some chances of their own after seeming to come to terms with their opposition’s efficient use of the ball.

But four minutes after the break they were left trailing after smart work from Gergő Gyürki following a shot that was parried by Cascadian keeper Will Marment. Ronald Takács of MTK Budapest then extended the lead for Kárpátalja on the 59-minute mark, capitalising on a rebound created after a mazy dribble from Zoltán Baksa saw him beat five opponents.

Kárpátalja had several chances to finish things off, but Cascadia battled bravely to get back in the game, spirited on by MLS star James Riley, and eventually got one back via Hamza Haddadi. It wasn’t meant to be, however, and the match was ultimately killed off in the 87th minute when maker-taker Zsolt Gajdos roofed one from the penalty spot.

Based on their performances so far, the side representing Carpathian Ruthenia are serious dark horses for the tournament. They look possibly the most technically clued-in side in the competition, and are extremely well organised.

Western Armenia 0-4 Székely Land

A sparky game in Bromley saw Raffi Kaya dismissed within ten minutes for the Western Armenians, an event that very much turned the tie in favour of the men from Székely Land. The temperature was elevated throughout, and a Western Armenian coach joined Kaya on the naughty step after an incident with an opposing supporter.

Csaba Czismadia extended the lead for Székely Land when the match resumed after half-time, before Western Armenia went down to nine men after Hirac Yayan, already substituted, had some choice words for the referee. From there it was plain sailing for Székely Land, and they strolled to a relatively comfortable 4-0 win.

They face their fellow Hungarian-speakers Kárpátalja in the semi-finals.

CONIFA 2018 Photo Credit: Thomas Lang/CONIFA

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