Match Report : Qatar 1-0 Andorra

A curious fixture took place at the English FA’s National Football Centre at St. Georges Park on Wednesday as 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar faced Andorra, with both teams using the occasion to prepare for their respective upcoming World Cup qualifying games.

 

Result – 🇶🇦 Qatar 1-0 Andorra 🇦🇩 (Asad, ’73)

 

Both coaches took the opportunity to use this friendly as an exercise to give squad players some game time ahead of upcoming competitive fixtures.For Qatar this was the final part of a three game tour for new coach Felix Sanchez (The third manager in twelve months) who was promoted from his position with the u-23 at the beginning of July to take the reigns following the sudden departure of Jorge Fossati following disagreements over squad recruitment with the Qatari FA.

 

Promising Form

Sanchez’s “Al Annabi” side had faced English championship opposition in their two previous games on this tour, recording a 2-0 win on August 9th over a Leeds United side, before loosing 2-1 to a Nottingham Forest side 2-1 on August 13th, with the sole Qatari goal coming from Ismaeel Mohammad. On Wednesday they looked to bounce back against international opposition, facing Andorra ahead of crucial World Cup qualifiers ahead.

Andorra for their part had been on a remarkable run of form, with no goals conceded since last November, in a total of 342 playing minutes over 277 days. This run was highlighted with wins over San Marino and and impressive competitive qualifier victory against Hungary at home to add to a point from a 0-0 against the Faroe Islands in their preceding qualifier.

 

The Second Half Show

A sparse crowd was on hand to see Qatar eventually come out as 1-0 winners, with Ali Asad (Ali Asadallah) scoring after 78 minutes from a well worked move down the left hand side, with Abdul Karim Ali laying the ball of to Akram Afif who found Asad in space 12 yards out to receive a well played pass from the byline and slot the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the goal.

 

It perhaps could have been more, had Andorran keeper Jose Antonio Gomes not excellently tipped a 25 yard thunderbolt onto the crossbar and out to safety. However this attacking action was confined to the second half, whilst Andorra created little in an attacking sense themselves throughout. Tensions spilled over as Sergio Moreno made a dangerous knee high, studs showing challenge during time added on, which saw him sit out the final moments of the game.


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However following their victory, Qatar’s feelings of the game were reflected by Afif who was very pleased with the result, tweeting.

 

Moving Forward to Qualifiers

This game provided a useful opportunity for player experimentation for both coaches, particularly with a raft of change being made during this game as both teams prepare for higher profile games. Andorran coach Koldo will lead his team into two home qualifiers against Switzerland (August 31st) and the Faroe Islands (September 3rd) whilst Qatar have a final warm up friendly, home against Turkmenistan on August 23rd before crucial World Cup qualifiers against Syria (August 31st)  and China on September 5th as they look to keep their slim hopes of World Cup qualification alive.

 

Lima-107 Caps

Ildefons Lima – Record Andorra International caps (107)

A final note from this game was that Ildefons Lima, the longtime Andorran football servant and captain reached 107 international caps to become his countries record appearance holder, overtaking long time teammate Óscar Sonejee.

 

Aside from Andorra’s goal finally being breached, there is little to take from this game, other than a chance to give squad players game time before more important games to come where both teams will be eyeing more significant results in what has already been quite impressive qualifying campaigns.

 

Next Fixtures – 

🇶🇦 Qatar – (H) Turkmenistan, August 23rd

🇦🇩 Andorra – (H) Switzerland, August 31st




Stadio Olimpico San Marino

Match Report : San Marino 0-2 Andorra

Andorra have claimed their first victory since 2004, winning out away to San Marino in a friendly played in tricky weather conditions under poor visibility at what became a very foggy Stadio Olimpico in Serravalle.

 

Goals from an Ildefons Lima first half penalty and Cristian Martinez after the break helped Andorra win against San Marino in a very accomplished 2-0 victory, ending a streak of 86 win-less games. This dates back to a world cup qualifier in October 2004, at home to Macedonia, with Marc Pujol and current coach Koldo surviving from that lineup to celebrate this latest victory in San Marino. Lima had added cause for celebration, with his goal extending his own record as Andorra’s record goal scorer to 11 on the occasion of his 104th international cap.

 

Andorra Clinical in Front of Goal

There could have been potential for more than the two goals from this game, though an extremely thick fog descended down over the stadium as the match progressed making visibility conditions difficult for players and spectators alike. The clinching second goal stemmed from San Marino struggling to play out from the back in this poor visibility, with Martinez taking advantage of a moments hesitation from the centre back on the ball to steal possession before lifting the ball past Simoncini in the San Marino goal.

 

San Marino’s defending was also in question for the opening goal of the game. A long throw in caused nervous defending in the San Marino 18 yard area, with the referee spotting a stray arm from Della Valle as he rose to meet the incoming throw, pointing to the spot with little hesitation. Elia Benedettini, in goal for San Marino for the first half, got down well, low to his right to save the initial spot kick, but Lima was quickest to react to put home the rebound. (See Andorra v San Marino Highlights….)


Chances were few and far between, mostly consisting of lofted crosses and hopeful balls from set pieces though San Marino did perhaps have, though rare, the better of the opportunities carving out a couple of long range efforts in the second half, though none to trouble the Andorran goal. Though let that not distract from the Andorran performance, who dominated possession throughout, and perhaps under better conditions may have been better able to extend their lead further.

 

Manzaroli : San Marino Look to the Future

Though San Marino coach Manzaroli was disappointed after the game, he spoke of using this result as a learning experience for his players, in a game where both teams used their full allotted six substitutions, going on to say of his team…

 

“betrayed by the level of desire to get a result..We have to grow a lot”

Thus San Marino continue to seek their first win since a 1-0 friendly victory over Liechtenstein in 2004. However for Andorra football, the future holds promise as they now move ahead of San Marino in the world rankings, and can now look to their next competitive fixture, a world cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands, with a degree of confidence. This follows on from a friendly draw away to Azerbaijan last summer, so this latest Andorran win can only boost their hopes of picking up a first competitive point of this campaign.

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Andorra are next in action on March 25th at home to the Faroe Islands in a World Cup qualifying fixture, while San Marino host the Czech Republic, also in a qualifier on the following day, March 26th in Serravalle.

 


San Marino – Andorra : Match Stats

Result – 🇸🇲 San Marino 0-2 Andorra 🇦🇩 (Lima ’27, Martinez ’65)
Cards♦ —-   🇦🇩 – Vieira ’39
Referee:🇮🇹 Irrati

 

🇸🇲 San Marino (4-4-2) Benedettini (Simoncini ’45), D’Addario (72 Rinaldi), Della Valle, Simoncini (Hirsch ’85), Palazzi, Lunadei (Tosi ’45), Golinucci (Golinucci A. ’45), Domeniconi, Zafferani (Tomassini ’63), Vitaioli, Stefanelli.

Subs not used: Muraccini, Cesarini, Brolli, Bonini, Selva, Battistini.

Coach – Pier Angelo Manzaroli.

 

🇦🇩 Andorra (4-4-2) Pol, Martinez (Clemente ’78), Vales, Lima, Pujol (Josep Garcia ’82), Viera, Martinez (Alaez ’57), Llovera (Rodriguez ’89), Renom (San Nicolas ’67), Rodriguez (Moreno ’75), Rubio.

Sub not used: Gomez

Coach – De Eulate




Ataturk Stadium Nicosia

CONIFA 2017 Euro Cup : Details Announced

Following the CONIFA Annual General Meeting held in Geneva, details were revealed for the upcoming 2017 CONIFA European Football Cup.

 

The tournament is due to be held in Northern Cyprus during the dates of the 4th – 11th June. It will be an eight team tournament with familiar sides returning to compete in the second installment of CONIFA’S European competition.

 

2017 CONIFA European Football Cup Participants

The teams to compete at the 2017 CONIFA European Football Cup will be: hosts Northern Cyprus, Abkhazia, County of Nice, Ellan Vannin, Karpatalya, Padania, Sapmi, Székely Land.

 

There is strong pedigree in this lineup with Northern Cyprus previously winning the 2006 FIFI Wild Cup and 2006 ELF Cup (ran in opposition to the NF-Board organised VIVA world cup that year). Both County of Nice and just last year Abkhazia have won the CONIFA Football World Cup, whilst Sápmi and, on multiple occasions, Padania have won the VIVA World Cup.

Padania are also reigning European champions following their victory in 2015 edition. Ellan Vannin finish 3rd in that same competition, which was host by Székely Land, who will be both returning for this edition along with a debuting Karpatalya (Hungarians in Ukraine) creating a very competitive lineup of teams, which is sure to produce an exciting, open tournament. Speaking on the official announcement of the tournament lineup, General Secretary Per-Anders Blind said,

“The 2017 European Football Cup will bring together some of our best teams for what promises to be an exciting week of competition,…The CONIFA family is looking forward to our visit in June!”

 


The exact details are yet to be confirmed, the venues for these matches are likely to mirror those used during the 2006 ELF cup with the Atatürk Stadium in North Nicosia being the premier stadium in the region with a capacity of up to 28,000. Also likely venues are the 20 Temmuz Stadium, Dr. Fazıl Küçük Stadium in Famagusta, home of the 15/16 league champions Mağusa Türk Gücü S.K and Zafer Stadium in Morphou (Güzelyurt/Omorfo). Speaking on hosting the tournament, Northern Cyprus  KTFF representative Orcun Kamali said, 

Nicosia Ataturk Stadium

Ataturk Stadium


“Northern Cyprus has a proud football history. We have a strong semi-professional league on the island, and our national team finished third in the last CONIFA tournament. The decision to host the 2017 European Football Cup was an easy one.”

 

Western Arminia Team Withdraw

A notable absentee will be the side from Western Armenia who recorded a record 12-0 versus the Chagos Islands in the 2016 World Football Cup en route to 6th place finish. According to Asbarez, ConIFA Vice-President Dimitri Pagava, Western Armenia would not compete due to a lack of guarantees in relation to their security during any potential participation. There are historical tensions between Armenia and Turkey in relation the area of Western Armenia, located in modern day Western Turkey. With issues around the ethnic Turkish majority in Northern Cyprus following the fallout of a 1974 Turkish invasion of the island of Cyprus, Western Armenia chose not to be involved in this tournament citing the aforementioned security concerns.

 

Skåneland Join CONIFA

Also announced at the General Meeting was the introduction of the newest member to CONIFA, Skåneland, a region in southern Sweden. It previously played one game whilst a member of the NF-Board, a 0-0 draw against Southern Schleswig. Hopes for Skåneland’s admission seem to be not separate by any means but rather for regional recognition, particularly for the Scanian dialect with calls to see it accepted as a minority language rather than a dialect.

 

More details will follow as CONIFA makes official announcements announcements from their General Meeting, but for now the details for the 2017 European Football Cup make 2017 an exciting year for the Non-FIFA Football community.




Folgore Team Photo

Folgore Capture San Marino Title

S.S Folgore/Falciano were able to celebrate this past weekend as they secured there first championship victory in fifteen years following an extremely closely contested league final against Juvenes/Dogana.

Folgore, having struggled through the playoffs heading into this final perhaps feared the worst when Lorenzo Gasperoni opened the scoring for Juvenes after 24 minutes, heading in a Mirko Mantovani cross from the edge of the six yard box somewhat against the run of play.

As the first half progressed, Folgore continued to enjoy the better of the chances with keeper Mattia Manzaroli being called into action from a number of long range efforts, before watching a Fabio Bollini effort hitting the Juvenes crossbar after controlling well from a throw in to the box before unlesing a rasping effort on the turn which deserved better.

However after 43 minutes, Folgore were rewarded for their persistence when Francesco Perotta tapped in from close range after a brief goal-line scramble for his 8th goal of the campaign to deservedly leave the sides level entering the half time break.

The second half continued in much a similar fashion to the first with both sides creating many half chances, though with neither side ever taking control of the tie as the 1–1 score looked set to remain at the end of 90 minutes, unless one side was given a guilt edge opportunity to change this.

This opportunity and tipping point of the tie came after 85 minutes when after a cross across the edge of the Juvenes box, Nicola Canini dove into a rash tackle to receive his marching orders for a second bookable offence, leaving Folgore a man up and free kick in prime territory. The resulting free kick was well put away by Manuel Muccini through the Juvenes wall in to the bottom corner to keeper Manzaroli’s left, leaving Folgore 2–1 ahead with three minutes remaining.

As Juvenes began to push forward chasing the game, they left ever increasing gaps at the back, which was exploited as the clock ticked to 90 minutes as after a quick interception and break from Folgore, Perotta was let in between the two centre backs, one on one with Manzaroli who he calmly beat with a lofted chip over the stranded keepers head to seal the result and send the Folgore faithful into raptures. (A celebration for which Perotta was booked, but certainly didn’t matter in the grander scheme of things!)

In a touching moment during the celebrations, the Folgore players wore shirts dedicating their victory to club Physiotherapist Umberto Allasia who was hospitalised in Cesena prior to the game. All that was left was for the team to lift the clubs 4th nation championship in total to complete the double of league and maiden cup victories this season.

Now Folgore can look forward to a place in next years Champions League qualifying following their great domestic success this season.