Football During a Pandemic – The Last Holdouts Against Coronavirus

As the global game and world at large has come to an effective standstill during the outbreak of the coronovirus pandemic, the current coronavirus football situation has led the football community to slowly come to terms with dealing with the effects of it. From closed door games, to cancellations, to dealing with the financial impact to clubs and players… day by day, measures are updated to best manage the situation for all involved.


However, in a limited number of countries, not all has come to a stop. It is a situation that is ever changing, but game of football has not come to a complete stop, with the flame of the game been kept lit in it’s last remaining outposts. Some such as Western Sahara football are always under trying times, in the current coronavirius football landscape, some as Turkey and Australia held on until cancellations were unavoidable, while in other corners or the globe, the games continue.


Current Leagues

Belarus Belarus

The most consistent of these has been the Belorussian league, maintaining a full schedule behind closed doors from their March season start, including Champions League regulars BATA Borisov.

However as the BBC reports there is growing pressure from supporter groups to boycott games, in spite of president Lukashenko’s resistance to disruption at this time, though no cancellations seem to be on the horizon in Belarus. Despite this, Fifpro and it’s general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann have condemned the continuation of the league, saying,

“It is frankly not comprehendible how this could be going on”

On the field however, the surprise of the early stages has been two defeats from two for BATE. This leaves BATE to sit level bottom of the table. At the top 4 teams have made perfect starts with Minsk and Energetyk-BGU level on top on goal difference as the early pacemakers.

BelarusSlavia Mazyr v BATE

BelarusMinsk Derby

BelarusNeman v Vitebsk

🇧🇾Belarus League Table
# Team MP W D L F A G P
1 Shakhtyor 4 4 0 0 10 1 +9 12
2 Dinamo Brest 4 2 2 0 6 1 +5 8
3 BATE 4 2 2 0 8 4 +4 8
4 Dinamo Minsk 4 2 2 0 5 1 +4 8
5 Gomel 4 2 1 1 7 4 +3 7
6 Ruh Brest 4 1 3 0 4 3 +1 6
7 Isloch 4 2 0 2 3 5 -2 6
8 Torpedo BelAZ 4 2 0 2 2 5 -3 6
9 Vitebsk 4 1 2 1 2 1 +1 5
10 Minsk 4 1 2 1 5 5 +0 5
11 Energetyk-BGU 4 1 1 2 4 3 +1 4
12 Slutsk 4 1 1 2 3 5 -2 4
13 Sputnik 4 1 0 3 1 7 -6 3
14 Neman Grodno 4 0 2 2 1 4 -3 2
15 Slavia 4 0 1 3 1 5 -4 1
16 Smorgon 4 0 1 3 1 9 -8 1


Nicaragua Nicaragua

The sole league continuing in the Americas is that of Nicaragua, currently in it’s Apertura phase of the 2019/20 season. However with case of Corona virus being confirmed in the county, The Guardian has reported 3rd placed Diriangén has expressed a wish to suspend the league, with fears among there players and staff of the current situation. However with government pressure to fulfill fixtures, and with their funding influence among a majority of teams in the league, no stoppage seems imminent.

In contrast there are opposers of the current situation. The league running as usual is seen as a platform for president Daniel Ortega’s domestic display of stability and normality. In this environment, he is unlikely to accept dissenting voices from clubs. Clubs have raised occasional concerns by some such as Real Madriz, but such comments are quickly retracted.

On the field Managua from the capital sit two points clear at the top of the table. They lead from Real Estelí, who defeated them after extra time in the 2nd of a two legged Apertura final in December.

NicaraguaReal Madriz FC v CD Ocotal

NicaraguaCD Ocotal v Real Estelí FC

NicaraguaJuventusFC v CDWalter Ferretti

🇳🇮Nicaragua Campeonato Nacional
# Team MP W D L F A G P
1 Real Estelí 18 11 5 2 32 13 +19 38
2 Walter Ferretti 18 9 5 4 29 17 +12 32
3 Municipal Jalapa 18 8 6 4 20 15 +5 30
4 Diriangén 18 8 5 5 29 21 +8 29
5 Juventus Managua 18 6 5 7 23 25 -2 23
6 Chinandega 18 5 6 7 21 35 -14 21
7 Deportivo Ocotal 18 5 4 9 20 25 -5 19
8 Managua 18 5 4 9 24 30 -6 19
9 Real Madriz 18 3 7 8 17 24 -7 16
10 Junior Managua 18 2 9 7 16 26 -10 15


Burundi Burundi

In contrast to other countries which continue, there is a great appreciation for the scale of the Coronavirus pandemic. With just now the first two officially confirmed cases in the country, no reason has been found to cancel regular events such as church mass, or football games, though it is now in question. Also, on what current coronavirus football measures can be taken. For instance, they refused to select European based players for national duty. This whilst international fixtures were still possible and were among the first calling on CAF to suspend such fixtures.

As such, the league, as the country as a whole runs in isolation to the outside footballing community. Therefore, Aigle Noir are now certain to cede their title won last season, the first in the clubs history. With only four game weeks remaining, Le Messager have played one game extra, to sit 4 points clear from Musongati. The league now looks set to go down to the wire.

BurundiVitol’O Fc v Musongati

BurundiAthletico Academy v Aigle Noir

BurundiInter Star Vs Buja City

🇧🇮Burundi Premier League
# Team MP W D L F A G P
1 Musongati 25 13 7 5 42 24 +18 46
2 Le Messager Ngozi 25 13 7 5 37 24 +13 46
3 Rukinzo 25 13 7 5 39 27 +12 46
4 Flambeau du Centre 25 13 6 6 35 20 +15 45
5 Kayanza United 25 12 7 6 38 32 +6 43
6 Aigle Noir 25 11 7 7 39 29 +10 40
7 Olympic Star 25 10 6 9 28 23 +5 36
8 Royal de Muramvya 25 9 7 9 29 26 +3 34
9 Vital'O 24 10 4 10 24 25 -1 34
10 Dynamik 25 9 5 11 20 24 -4 32
11 Athlético Olympic 25 8 7 10 28 34 -6 31
12 Bujumbura City 24 9 3 12 30 36 -6 30
13 Inter Star 25 8 4 13 24 31 -7 28
14 Bumamuru 25 7 5 13 23 36 -13 26
15 Les Eléphants 25 6 6 13 26 40 -14 24
16 Muzinga 25 2 4 19 10 41 -31 10


Turkmenistan Turkmenistan

The Turkmenistan football league calender kicked off as usual on March 6th. While Köpetdag Ashgabat were the dominant force post independence,recent seasons have seen success be in the hands of city rivals Altyn Asyr, winning all titles from 2014-2019. Most often runners up in this time is Ahal, based in Anau, outside the main and some 15km from the Ashgabat Stadium which they share. However yet anagain in 2020, it seems these two will be those fighting once again for the title.

*Update 1-6-20 – Thanks to the work of the people of the Russian “Other Football” news site, match footage was been captured, including full games, so be sure to check their site for the very latest updates on the 2020 Ýokary Liga.

🇹🇲Turkmenistan League Fixtures



Leagues To Come

Tajikistan Tajikistan

A new contender to this list though will be that of Tajikistan which has confirmed it plans to play it’s season curtain raising Super Cup as planned, albeit behind closed doors. With zero local confirmed cases of Coronavirus, it has been deemed there is no coronavirus football schedule changes. On March 31st Istaravshan heavily defeated league rivals Isfara 6-0 in a pre-season friendly, signalling their intent for the campaign. This gives good preparation for their season opener against Khatlon on Sunday April 5th. However Sunday’s opening round of league fixtures will be pre-empted by the curtain raising Tajik Super Cup on Saturday with defending league/cup champions Istiqlol, playing the league runners up Hujand

Istaravshan 6-0 Isfara –@rasulovjr23

🇹🇯Tajikistan League Fixtures
April 4, 2021
Kuktosh 00:00 Istiqlol
April 10, 2021
Istiqlol 11:00 Dushanbe-83
April 11, 2021
Ravshan 11:00 Fayzkand
Kuktosh 11:00 Istaravshan
April 16, 2021
Istaravshan 11:30 Istiqlol
Fayzkand 11:30 Kuktosh
April 17, 2021
Khujand 11:30 CSKA Pomir
Dushanbe-83 11:30 Khatlon
April 18, 2021
Eskhata 11:30 Ravshan
April 24, 2021
Istaravshan 11:30 Fayzkand
CSKA Pomir 11:30 Dushanbe-83
Istiqlol 11:30 Khatlon
April 25, 2021
Kuktosh 11:30 Eskhata
Ravshan 11:30 Khujand
April 30, 2021
Fayzkand 12:00 Istiqlol
Khujand 12:00 Kuktosh
Khatlon 12:00 CSKA Pomir
May 1, 2021
Eskhata 12:00 Istaravshan
Dushanbe-83 12:00 Ravshan


Taiwan Taiwan

The 2020 Taiwan football season will commence on April 12th. Current champions Tatung FC will look to regain their title from the 2019 season. In contrast to it’s Asian neighbours, Taiwan has been largely unaffected by the spread of Coronovirus, with life continuing as usual for locals. For the league participants, it will be the same 8 teams from the 2019 campaign. This includes Red Lions and Ming Chuan survived relegation playoffs to retain their top flight status

2020 Participants
1 Hang Yuen
2 Taipei City Tatung
3 Taichung Futuro
4 Taiwan Power Company
5 Tainan Steel
6 Hasus Taiwan Sports University
7 Taipei Red Lions
8 Ming Chuan University

Ming Chuan win playoff

🇹🇼Taiwan League Table
# Team MP W D L F A G P
1 Taipower 14 11 2 1 34 6 +28 35
2 Tatung 14 11 2 1 29 6 +23 35
3 NTCPE 14 10 0 4 32 8 +24 30
4 I Shou University 14 6 1 7 21 31 -10 19
5 Hun Sing 14 4 4 6 13 20 -7 16
6 NSTC 14 3 2 9 7 21 -14 11
7 Ming Chuan Uni… 14 3 0 11 11 34 -23 9
8 Fubon Financial 14 2 1 11 10 31 -21 7


The time we now live in with coronavirus football ‘chaos’ now being the norm, is a tough adjustment. While many clubs and associations adjust for financial realities without the game, others persevere. Though it presents difficult times, the game has gone largely quiet. Some remain, but at what cost, time will tell.

Trying Times in Papua New Guinea Football

Despite recent on-field successes, turmoil now continues to reign within the structure of football in Papua New Guinea, with divisions and disorganization presenting problems for football in the country for the near future.


Promise and Problems

The hosting of the 2016 FIFA Womens U-20 World Cup and OFC Nations Cup in 2016 in Papua New Guinea had been seen as a show of confidence in football in the country, along with impressive performance from domestic and national sides in recent history. However internal strife, rebel leagues, unfulfilled seasons and personal squabbles have but football on uncertain ground.


The traditional top flight PNGFA FIFA backed league has run into troubles, with the championship season failing to be completed in 2017. Part of the blame for this was attributed to logistics, with the season start being delay due to the FIFA tournament being presented as a partial reason, along with issues of league payments with remaining teams. However the problems with Papua New Guinea football run much deeper.


Politics at Play

The initial division seems to stem from the election of FIFA Senior Vice President & OFC President David Chung as President of the Papua New Guinea FA. His election is disputed, primarily by Hekari United President John Kapi Natto. The dispute arises from accusations that Chung has used FIFA funds to support his reelection. Also Natto has accused Chung of wrongly discounting 12 pro-Natto votes from the election process, to boost the Chung candidacy. However Chung issued a statement, representing the OFC to deny any accusations of wrong doing.

 OFC President Chung


“The PNGFA and its Electoral Committee believe that the Congress and the subsequent election was held in accordance with PNGFA Statutes. The members who were suspended were subject to a clear and transparent process and were found not to be compliant to their member obligations in accordance with the PNGFA Statutes.”


“This was endorsed by FIFA and the High Court in Port Moresby following an application for an injunction by one of the suspended members where the High Court found they have no legal standing.” added Chung.


Football Divisions

Despite Chung clearing his name through official channels, this has failed to appease Natto supporters. As such Natto has taken 12 now suspended teams, including his own, and once OFC Champions League winners Hekari United, to his newly establish rival start up league, under the jurisdiction of the also newly founded FFPNG. Chung has tried to bring this league under the auspices of the FIFA backed PNGFA, but with dwindling team numbers, collapsing competitions in contrast to the relative success of the FFPNG run competition, the future looks challenging for Chung and the PNGFA.


The members of the FFPNG have offered a compromise to Chung, offering their support for a lifting of the suspensions and an official recognition of the FFPNG. If these demands are met, then the FFPNG could be willing to come back under the auspices of the official PNGFA. However with neither side seemingly wanting to cede ground, a split in national club competitions seem inevitable for the foreseeable future.
 John Kapi Natto


Future at the International Level

Despite the domestic problems, the position of Papua New Guinea football could be seen to be as prominent as ever. As mentioned, Papua New Guinea hosted the OFC Nations Cup and also FIFA Womens U-20 World Cup in 2016, bringing global footballing eyes to the country. The national side reached the final of the 2016 OFC championship. Also, as President of the OFC, David Chung has been appointed by FIFA President Gianni Infantino to a prominent position as Vice President withing FIFA, a position which Chung brings national pride to.


“I take the PNG flag to every meeting and make sure my colleagues know where I come from. I’m just say proud to carry the PNG flag around the world.
“This is for the first time in history of Oceania and the PNGFA to rise to this level.
“I’m just so proud to be a Papua New Guinean as I do this with pride,”


However, this pride in representing Papua New Guinea encounters problems when dealing with the national side. Players from the currently unrecognized FFPNG are ineligible for selection for the national team, including those from the likes of Hekari United. While this causes selection problems for the national team, it can also be platform to show tension, such as an incident in May where police were called to a PNG training session after people from the FFPNG arrived to the training venue. Coach Flemming Serritslev explained the issues.


“Some hooligans and officials from “Fake Football Federation” entered our pitch, entered out training, interrupted our training and we had to stop the training 45 minutes before schedule,”

Had to call the police to take care that everything went on in a good way – it’s unbelievable what is going on in this country when it’s about the national team.


Serritslev adding – “Unfortunately, I have to say, there are a few people who does everything they can to destroy the work of the national team.”

Hekari United win 2010 OFC Champions League


Future for Football in Papua New Guinea

Despite the potential in Papua New Guinea football, primarily to follow on from a very near penalty loss in the final of the 2016 OFC Nations Cup, the division which currently exist can only cause problems. The FFPNG, currently controls the strongest domestic league and teams, with promises of long term development plans for football in the country. Either the PNG can re-assume control, or the FFPNG can emerge as the sole player in domestic football, the best option seems to be a cordial union of the two.


For the benefit of all those involved with the sport in PNG, this solution is best coming sooner rather than later to realize the full bright potential of the game there.

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.

A post shared by Qatar football (@qfa) on


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

Uzbek Classico : Pakhtakor Six Stuns Neftchi

Pakhtakor Tashkent have given their season a much needed boost following a thoroughly impressive 6-0 victory against major rivals Neftchi Fergana in week 17 of the Uzbek top flight season. A record result in this fixture.


Slow Burner

In what was a competitive first half of action, neither side was able to get a foothold in the game and break the deadlock, with Pakhtakor perhaps being most guilty of failing to make the most of their opportunities with some wayward attempts on goal.


Speaking in a Pakhtakor press conference after the game, Pakhtakor manager and Georgian legend Shota Arveladze, spoke of the change in how his side approached the second half.

“We played well in the first half and created many dangerous moments, but could not score. In the second half we played faster and more accurately. As a result, we accomplished the plan.”

Pakhtakor Coach – Arveladze

Second Half Surge

With added intensity from Pakhtakor in the second half, the goal floodgates opened. Akhmedov opened the scoring after 53 minutes with a brilliant individual effort, beating several defenders before keeping his composure to finish a fine piece of play.


Further goals were not long in coming with Sergeev (’60, ’64) and Bezerra (’78, 87) adding quick fire doubles to the score sheet, all the more impressive for Thiago Bezerra on debut. Vladimir Kozak complete the rout in the final minute to leave home fans delighted among a crowd of 6155 at the Pakhtakor Markaziy Stadium. Also of note, Sergeev’s first effort was Pakhtakors 1700th goal in the Uzbek top flight, a national record.


Victory carried extra emotion for those involved with Pakhtakor, coming on the weekend anniversary of the 1979 Dniprodzerzhynsk air disaster which claimed 17 Pakhtakor players and staff among the total 178 victims. This victory is another fine tribute to add to those paid by the club this week to remember those of the 1979 Pakhtakor team.

’79 Team Remembered

Much Work to do for League Progress

This result could prove pivotal for both sides as it moves Pakhtakor closer to the top in fourth, just one point away from third place and only a further point away from second . In contrast Neftchi now solidly occupy the relegation playoff position, now six points away from safety, and with the second half performance against Pakhtakor, it is hard to see cause for optimism for the Fergana based fans.


Next weekend Pakhtakor will look to build on momentum, traveling to face 12th placed Dynamo Samarkand in a crucial game, with only six points separating 2nd to 9th place in the league. For Neftchi, they will be desperate for points, though a home fixture against a Navbahor Namangan side without a win in their last three presents an opportunity for this.


With most places in the league still in the balance, next weeks games could have a serious impact on how this season’s Uzbek Oliy League shakes out, but for now the Pakhtakor faithful are sure to be happy following this result. For Neftchi, there is still much to do to save their season.

Next Fixtures-

18/08/17 – Dynamo Samarkand vs. Pakhtakor Tashkent

19/08/17 –  Neftchi Fergana vs. Navbahor Namangan


Pakhtakor – Neftchi – 6:0 (0:0)
12 August. Tashkent. Pakhtakor stadium. 6155 spectators.
Referee: Aziz Asimov (Tashkent).
Pakhtakor: Lobanov, Kozak, Simic (c), Azamov, Khoshimov, Akhmedov, Iskanderov (Ismatullaev, 85), Bezerra, Nurullaev (Ibrokhimov, 68), Karimov (Kanuk, 80), Sergeev.
Neftchi: Yusupov, Tursunov, Kapadze, Muzaffarov, Tuychiboev, Rakhimov, Namozov (Abdulkhoqov, 46), Ismoilov, Saidov (Khakimov, 29), Shogulomov, Khaydarov (Mamazulunov, 78).
Goals: Akhmedov, 53 – 1:0. Sergeev, 60 – 2:0. Sergeev, 64 – 3:0. Bezerra, 78 – 4:0. Bezerra, 87 – 5:0. Kozak, 89 – 6:0.
Yellow Cards: ♦Khakimov, 51. ♦Ibrokhimov, 67. ♦Kanuk, 86.
Red Cards – 

Match Report : San Marino 0-2 Andorra

Stadio Olimpico San Marino

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.

A post shared by Champions League (@omnisport) on


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

2026 World Cup : CONCACAF Seek Three Nation Bid


As FIFA continue their plans to further expand the number of teams competing at future world cups, CONCACAF General Secretary Philippe Moggio believes this presents a great opportunity for the region to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.


Speaking to ESPN Deportes, Moggio spoke of his ambition to bring the World Cup back to the region, having last hosted the competition in the United States in 1994.

“Obviously, this is a high priority for our region. It is time to have the World Cup back at CONCACAF, considering the last time we had hosting duties was in 1994 in the U.S.”

The planned bid will consist of the hosting being split among the three largest associations in CONCACAF, in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Moggio believes that the expansion to 48 teams will require a developed football market in terms of infrastructure and also commercial opportunities.

“It is a strong region in sporting and economic terms,” adding “There will be a need for more stadiums to be played in. “There aren’t many countries in the world which can say they will have no problems in hosting this kind of competition. This makes co-hosting bids, such as the one in our region and with three countries involved, more feasible.”


Both Mexico (1970 & 1986) and the United States (1994) have previously hosted tournaments, with this being a potential first for Canada whose only previous World Cup experience came in qualifying for the 1986 edition. However, despite considering a three way joint bid, Moggio has ruled out a cross-confederation bid with CONMEBOL, despite the success of the Copa America – Centenario.

Azteca StadiumAzteca Stadium-Mexico


“The idea of cooperation in tournament organisation is always there and we are in our best disposition to explore different opportunities. However, when it comes to consider merging our Confederations and look for a joint World Cup qualifying pool, I don’t think there’s space for changes.”

Despite the potential logistical and organisation problems that having such an expended tournament may present, Moggio spoke highly of the initiative, speaking of the benefits ti can bring to the regional and global game to give more countries the opportunity to appear on the grand stage of a World Cup, which can provide benefits for these countries into the future.

“We all know the World Cup is a great development tool for football. When a country has the chance of playing the tournament, it helps a great deal in the progress and development of football in that nation.”


Though a decision on hosting for the 2026 World Cup is not due to take place until 2020, CONCACAF’s previous hosting experience, infrastructure and an almost 30 year gap between hosting duties, this potential bid surely makes Moggio’s CONCACAF offer favourite entering the bidding process.


1994 World Cup Highlights – BBC

Guinea-Bissau AFCON 2017 :Underdogs enter the Lions Den

Guinea Bissau Football Squad

The 2017 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations will feature Guinea-Bissau making their debut in, what looks set to be a thrilling edition with many of the perennial big hitters including Cameroon, Ghana, Egypt, Morocco and Ivory Coast challenging for the title.

It is something of a fairy-tale for the small West African country, who will be making their debut in the tournament, having first attempted to qualify for the 1994 edition. They secured their path to the tournament in the penultimate game of qualification in a thrilling 3-2 over former champions Zambia.

Despite the government dropping out from funding a pre-tournament training camp, along with last minute pay disputes and potential player strikes, a last minute player meeting with president Jose Mario Vaz has seen all outstanding bonuses up to €23,000 per player beign paid. Despite the upheaval, the team is looking set to cause more shocks in the tournament proper.

This success has been built on team manager Paulo Torres looking to the former colonial base of Portugal to boost squad numbers with those based in Europe of Guinean extraction. There is a hope that the experience that these players have from playing at club level along with the likes of those in the victorious Portugal Euro 2016 squad will be of great benefit to the squad, as explained by team co-ordinator Caito Balde who is set to take charge of the side as Paulo Torres serves a four game ban for dissent against a referee during qualifying.

“Portugal are an inspiration to us…Many of the players in the Guinea Bissau team have played with many of those players who have now become champions of Europe. They have passed through the best training school that is Portugal and will look to show that at the Nations Cup”

Playing internationally since 1952, it has been a long footballing journey for small Guinea-Bissau. Their football association was officially founded in 1974, but had to wait until 1986 to be recognized by CAF and FIFA. Since making their competitive debut in Cup of Nations Qualifying in 1994, competitive matches have been a largely fruitless exercise for Guinea-Bissau with only four wins in qualification in their history.

Upon the draw being made for qualifying for the 2017 edition, their form looked set to continue, being drawn the the same qualification group with former winners Zambia and Congo along with Victor Wanyama’s Kenya. A total of one point with four goals conceded from the first two groups games seemed to fit this pattern. However in March, two meetings with Kenya within a week changed the completion of the group with Camara scoring in the home tie in a 1-0 win, quickly followed up four days later with Cicero scoring after 81 minutes in Kinshasa to put Guinea Bissau in uncharted territory.

The game had to be halted for some 30 minutes as a home crowd frustrated by Kenyan coach and team selections had threatened to boycott the game, with tensions spilling over in to battles with stadium police. However the West African side were able to see the game out, with qualification turning from dreams to reality. As goalkeeper Jonas Mendes told CAFOnline after the match.

“We now believe that we actually can (go all the way to AFCON). It is not easy but beating Kenya, a very tough team home and away gives us some sense of belief. We will now focus on the two remaining matches and give it the best we can,”

This set up a dramatic fixture in June knowing a win at home to 2012 champions Zambia could see them through. In an enthralling encounter, Guinea-Bissau twice took the lead only to be twice pegged back by Zambia. Though as the game entered added time, the Guinea-Bissau players were not looking to settle for the draw, as described by Bocundji Ca.

“Even against Zambia, we went in with the same determination as we had against Kenya,” Ca said. “We did not even consider drawing, we only wanted to win, by any means. It was the first opportunity in our history to qualify for AFCON, so we knew we could not miss it.”

In a seminal moment for football in Guinea-Bissau Toni Silva came up with a late, late winner to send the Guinea Bissau faithful into dream land. As Ca continued,

“The result meant more than football to the country”

Drawn to a group featuring the hosts Gabon, 2013 finalists Burkina Faso and African heavyweights and four time winners Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau will have their work cut out to produce further heroics. However, the side will be hopeful based on the progress in qualifying and will be sure to have the full support of the nation behind them as their footballing odyssey continues.


Guinea Bissau Squad AFCON Squad

Goalkeepers: Rui Dabo (Cova da Piedade), Papa Masse Mbaye Fall (Orellana Costa Dulce), Jonas Mendes (Salgueiros)

Defenders: Mamadu Cande (Tondela), Tomas dabo (Arouca), Eridson (Freamunde), Emmanuel Mendy, Rudinilson Silva (both unattached), Agostinho Soares (Sporting Covilha), Juary Soares (Mafra)

Midfielders: Bocundji Ca (unattached), Idrissa Camara (Avellino), Francisco Junior (Stromsgodset), Nani (Felgueiras), Piqueti (Sporting Braga), Sana (Academica Viseu), Toni Silva, Zezinho (both Levadiakos)

Strikers: Aldair (Olhanense), Abel Camara (Belenenses), João Mario (Chaves), Fredric Mendy (Ulsan Hyundai), Sami (Akhisar Belediyespor)

The Other Final – Football Film Review

Bhutan Stadium

For those looking to see a side of them game, that despite lacking the media coverage, has all the passion of any world fixture, Bhutan v Montserrat featured in this 2002 documentary is a great insight to this corner of the game. (See video below)

In 2001, filmmaker Johan Kramer experienced the extremely rare and surprising occurrence of his Netherlands national team failing to qualify for the upcoming World Cup. Without his team to support during the finals tournament, thoughts turned to football away from this global sporting and commercial phenomenon, inspired to see the opposite side of the game at international level.

In a moment of optimistic inspiration, Kramer looked for the two lowest ranked international sides, and devised a plan to stage “The Other Final” where away from the glamour of the greatest teams playing in the World Cup final in Japan, bottom ranked Montserrat and Bhutan would stage their own ‘final’ on the same day, not for much prestige or financial reward, but simply for the passion and love for the game.

The linchpin of this documentary is the dynamic of the contrasting cultures of the relatively tranquil, Buddhist, isolated Himalayan nation of Bhutan and their rather more exuberant Caribbean guests. Though at the outset, we are shown that the populations of both countries know not much to very little about each other’s country as both teams share their own culture and perspectives with each-other. Though the Montserrat teams most notable contribution in this regard is being able to deliver a rendition of calypso classic and their soccer anthem “Hot, Hot, Hot’ at a moments notice!

However despite the good intentions of both sides, we are shown the difficulties of game organisation at this level. Referee’s can become unavailable at a moments notice, though potentially more disastrously, Montserrat coach Paul Morris resigned midway through the project, being frustrated by interference from the Montserrat FA, particularly around the issue of player selection.

From the players perspective, their is a focus on Bhutan star player Wangay Dorji at that time was plying his trade in India. He shows that his ambition is not limited by Bhutan’s place in the football world, dreaming of playing for the likes of Manchester United. However whilst keeping himself ground he remains determined to take his career as far as he possibly can.

We also here stories of more disastrous non-footballing events that had to be overcome. Between 1995 to 1999 Montserrat suffered a series of catastrophic volcanic eruption, destroying the existing capital city, including the national stadium, leaving much of the country as a no-go area. We see how the Montserrat population deals with the changes in the aftermath of this disaster. We also see how Bhutan adjusts to it own changing country. Traditionally a very insulated country, the introduction of television in 1999 allowed people to see a wider world, including the wider football world. Here we see Bhutan Coach Arie Schans watching World Cup fixtures to spot some tactical learning for his own team, a situation that could not have existed a mere few years earlier.

Despite the challenges to overcome, the fixture goes ahead as planned on the same day as the World Cup final. On a somewhat blemished pitch, a high intensity game ensues, with Bhutan running out 4-0 winners, though as the cliché goes “Football was the winner on the day”. Despite taking a short time to savor this special occasion, thoughts quickly turn to watching the ‘real’ World Cup final between Brazil and Germany almost 5000 kilometers away.

The documentary closes with a montage of the ups and down set to “Heros” by David Bowie, apt as the chorus line of “We can be heros, just for one day” fits the narrative of this story perfectly, showing that football is a sport that has a wide enough scope that passion, commitment and success can be seen from the biggest giants of the game, to the lowest ranked sides in the world, all of which was on display in this wonderful documentary.

As a football related film, this is a must watch for any football fan. It is perfect for those who want to looked into the football landscape away from the top names in the world, whilst also adding perspective to those who enjoy the top tier of the game, helping to appreciate it’s qualities even more. If you have not seen this documentary, do so as soon as you can!

The Other Final – Documentary

Video Refereeing – Trials and Tribulations

Soccer Camera

History has been made this week in the annual FIFA World Club Cup championship with video referee trials featuring alongside Real Madrid’s success in overcoming Kashima Antlers after extra time to claim the second world title in the competition.

Speaking in 2008, as reported by CBC, after initial test of a video refereeing system, FIFA’s ex President Sepp Blatter came out strongly against using such a system, stating “Let it be as it is and let’s leave (soccer) with errors”. However, his controversial departure seems to have opened the door to potential future uses of such systems. They have been trialled on occasion, firstly with France hosting Italy in a friendly in Paris this September, with The Telegraph reporting UEFA President Gianni Infantino speaking positively of the new system. “We turned a new page in football’s history book,”, though cautiously suggesting ““We must use it in a way that does not have a negative impact on the flow of the game and the game itself.” Referee that evening, Bjorn Kuipers also spoke positively of the new system stating


“The players again accepted (the decisions) immediately. This trust by the players gave me a lot of confidence.”


However since September, the systems use has not been without controversy. The Guardian reported on it’s first major impact during it’s first use during a competitive top-tier match in a Dutch Cup fixture between Ajax and Willem II. Willem II’s Anouar Kali was sent off after 60 minutes when his on field yellow card was overturned into a red card on review by the video referee, helping to turn the tide to an 5-0 Ajax win. Though the decision was accepted by players, it left the crowd confused as to proceedings as explained by referee of the evening Pol van Boekel. “We do hope that there will be some communication for the public in the future, they have a right to it,”.

A photo posted by AXIWI (@axiwi_international) on

 *Trial in the Dutch Cup.

The systems use in it’s first FIFA sanctioned tournament this week, has turned out to be a catalyst for controversy around the system. As reported by Sky Sports, the semi-final between Atletico Nacional (COL) and Kashima Antlers (JAP) featured the system being tested as a trip by Orlando Berrio on Daigo Nishi in the penalty are was not spotted by referee Viktor Kassai on the field. Following a delay of some three minutes during a throw-in, the referee was alerted to the incident by the video referee and pulled play back to award the spot-kick causing confusion, particularly among Athletico Nacional players and their captain Alexis Henriquez saying “I don’t understand it because Kashima’s players didn’t argue and carried on playing.” Henriquez continued,

*Kassai awards landmark penalty

“That’s what surprised me the most. The decision killed us, it was a huge blow. It took the referee two minutes to come to that conclusion.” going on to say “I don’t know if this system will work. It’s going to be a complicated issue in the future. The technology takes away the essence of football.”

Things went a little more smoothly in the Final between Real Madrid and Kashima Antlers, notably the video referee confirming a disallowed Ronaldo goal for offside, FIFA president still admitted that there were ‘teething problems’ to overcome, according to


“Of course there are learnings, of course there are a few topics that we have to look into and discuss in more detail, but the result is extremely positive,”


So despite it’s rocky start to life as a tool for referees, it seems as though only time will tell if be a welcomed additional to the game, much like referee marking spray, or be a continued source for debate as has been the case for the “Additional Assistant Referee”. As for video referees, the debate is sure to grow as the system becomes more widespead in the game into the future.

Folgore Capture San Marino Title

Folgore Team Photo

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.