Saturday, 29 December 2012

Clinical Basque Country thrash Bolivia

Basque Country produced a classy and powerful display to destroy CONMEBOL side Bolivia 6-1 in front of 26,000 fans in San Sebastián this evening.

Crushed..Bolivia (in white) were easily beaten
The non-FIFA side made were simply too strong for the South Americans in the opening stages and they took the lead after just 10 minutes. Xabi Alonso's accurate pass found captain Xabi Prieto on the right flank and his 1st time cross was met by Aritz Aduriz, who finished comfortably beyond Sergio Galarza to put the Basques ahead. 7 minutes later it was 2-0 as Athletic Bilbao forward Aduriz headed home an Ibai Gómez corner. Alonso saw a 25-yard effort well saved by Galarza shortly after but in the 22nd minute the veteran was beaten for the 3rd time as Prieto sent in a superb cross which Gaizka Toquero rose highest to nod in. The hosts were relentless and in the 27th minute they added a 4th goal. Captain Prieto drew Galarza out and squared the ball for Ibai Gómez, who had the simple task of tucking home his 1st goal for Basque Country. Aduriz almost scored a 5th in the 40th minute but he pulled his shot wide.

Brace...Aduriz bagged 2 goals
In the 2nd half the Basques continued to press and in the 57th minute Toquero grabbed his 2nd, another header, as he turned Gómez's corner into the net. The forward went close 6 minutes later but it was the Bolivians who got the next goal, a mere consolation, when Pro Vercelli teenager Alex Pontons scored on his international debut with 11 minutes to go. Despite this Basque Country continued to dictate the affair and they scored a 6th goal to secure the thrashing in injury time. 2 Real Sociedad players combined as Carlos Martínez crossed for fellow substitute Imanol Agirretxe to head beyond the hapless Galarza and secure the Basques biggest win since 1937. 

The non-FIFA side are likely to play again during the 2013 festive period. Elsewhere in Spain this evening a Galicia XI narrowly beat a Kurds in Europe team 3-2 in Pontevedra.

Match information -

Score: Basque Country 6 - 1 Bolivia

Goals: Basque Country - Aritz Aduriz 10', 16' Gaizka Toquero 22', 57' Ibai Gómez 27' Imanol Agirretxe 90'. Bolivia - Alex Pontons 79'

Basque Country XI: Iraizoz [Zubikarai 73']; Iraola [Carlos Martínez 46'], Balenziaga [Castillo 73'], González [Labaka 46'], I Martínez; Alonso [Oier 46'], Beñat [Rico 46'], Prieto [Susaeta 46']; Gómez, Aduriz [Sola 46'], Toquero [Agirretxe 73'].

Friday, 28 December 2012

Gozo edge Cilento in Mediterranean Sea showdown

Gozo secured victory by the narrowest of margins in Xewkija on Friday night after a slim 1-0 win over fellow N.F.-Board members Cilento.
Winners...Gozo (in blue) got the only goal

The Italian side are still waiting for their 1st international goal but the Gozitans will be delighted in keeping a clean sheet, something they had never previously achieved, as they made it 2 straight international wins. The opening period was cagey with the hosts the more positive side. Stoyko Sakaliev went close on a couple of occasions for the islanders. At the other end U.S Agropoli striker Vincenzo Margiotta saw his long-range effort turned behind by Nadur Youngsters goalkeeper Mark Grima. In the 40th minute Gozo were awarded a penalty but, after the referee ordered the effort to be retaken, Lorenzo Margiotta pulled off a fine save to deny Chris Camilleri from the spot kick.

Gozo continued to press in the 2nd half but struggled to break down the resolute Cilento defence. Michael Bezzina and Sakaliev were denied by the impressive Margiotta. The hosts eventually took the lead in the 69th minute when Milos Stojanovic fired beyond Margiotta after a corner wasn't dealt with by Cilento. After the goal the game turned scrappy and with 10 minutes to go Gozo's defender Peter Buttigieg was shown red, and in the 83rd minutes Salento midfielder Francesco Santosuosso was denied by Grima as the hosts held on for the win.

As part of the 4 team Gozo Cup Cilento will now take on Maltese Premier League side Mosta in the 3rd-place match on Sunday. Their conquerors Valetta meet Gozo in the final. 

Match information -

Score: Gozo 1 - 0 Cilento

Goals: Milos Stojanovic 69'

Gozo XI: Grima; Xerri, P. Buttigieg, D. Stojanovic; F. Camilleri, Simonic, Attard [Bezzina 46'], M. Stojanovic; C. Camilleri [Ganchev 46'], R. Buttigieg, Sakaliev [Portelli 80'].

Cilento XI: L. Margiotta; Bufano, Fiorillo, Mirra, Finaldi; Russo [Santosuosso 70'], Cauceglia [Cascone 80'], Bevilacqua, Orrico; V. Margiotta [De Santi 88'], Serrapere.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Festive fixtures preview

2 of the Spanish autonomous regions, who traditionally play over the Christmas period, are in action against FIFA members over the holiday season as Basque Country host Bolivia and Catalonia face Nigeria. There is also an all N.F.-Board meeting with Gozo playing Cilento for the 1st time.

28th December - Gozo vs. Cilento

Debut...Cilento vs. Occitania last year
These 2 teams will face off in Xewkija with neither side having played a game for a year. Gozo thrashed an inexperienced Raetia 16-1 in their last outing in January, with Cilento’s only game to date coming in a 2-0 defeat away to Occitania last December. The 2 teams are separated by only 6 places in the non-FIFA rankings and a tight Mediterranean encounter is likely. The hosts will hope to field some of their Maltese Premier League players, like Shaun Bajada and Steve Sultana, as well as the best from the Gozo league as the domestic scene takes a break in Malta over the holidays. Cilento are favourites though and manager Iginio Serrapede said ‘we have a good team of players in different Serie D clubs such as A.S.D Battipagliese and S.S. Ebolitana’. U.S. Agropoli striker Vincenzo Margiotta could play a big role.

29th December – Basque Country vs. Bolivia

Baltic...the Basques vs. Estonia in 2011
These 2 sides met back in 1993 with the Basques winning 3-1 in San Sebastián. The same city will see host to this fixture with Real Sociedad’s Anoeta welcoming a Bolivia side who’ve had a decent 2012 by their recent standards, losing just 2 of their 8 games. Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao will provide the spine of the squad, with La Liga stars such as Andoni Iraola and Aritz Aduriz, as well as veteran goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz set to feature. Real Madrid’s Xabi Alonso will be a huge player in midfield and should Fernando Llorente get a game then the inclusion of these regular Spain internationals should mean another win for the non-FIFA side is on the cards. However the Basques lost 2-0 to Tunisia last year and with the South American’s picking up form of late the script is far from written.

2nd January – Catalonia vs. Nigeria

Schemer...Xavi will dictate midfield
A hugely talented Catalan squad will take on African giants Nigeria at RCD Espanyol’s Cornellà-El Prat in the New Year. With FC Barcelona synonymous with Catalonia it is no surprise to learn the non-FIFA squad is packed with Barca talent, including Gerard Piqué, Xavi and Carles Puyol as well as youngsters Cristian Tello and Martín Montoya. Espanyol also provide many members of the team with Joan Verdú, twice a goalscorer for Catalonia, likely to feature as well as experienced forward Sergio García. Bojan Krkić, currently playing for A.C. Milan, is another big name in a squad brimming with quality and top-level experience. Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has chosen a home-based squad to assess players ahead of their upcoming African Cup of Nations campaign and will provide a stern test, but with the Catalan’s currently experiencing perhaps their most talented squad ever it is clear who the favourites are in this tie.

The festive schedule was hit by a couple of fixtures which won’t be fulfilled. Mapuche against Easter Island in Santiago had been cancelled due to a lack of money and it’s hoped the game will be played in 2013. A Galicia XI were set to take on Kurdistan in Pontevedra on December 29th but the current VIVA World Cup holders were denied visas, and as a result a Kurds living in Spain team will take their place on the same date.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Martinique suffer penalty heartbreak in Caribbean Cup semis

Frédéric Piquionne missed the crucial penalty as Martinique lost on penalties to Trinidad & Tobago in the Caribbean Cup semi-finals on Friday night. Kévin Parsemain had given Les Matinino the lead with just 15 minutes to go but they were agonisingly pegged back in injury time by a Richard Roy equaliser.

The non-FIFA side were dealt a huge blow before the game as their France-based contingent had to return to their clubs and as a result a much changed line-up took to the field against the 2006 World Cup finalists. With dangerous strike duo Piquionne and Parsemain surprisingly on the bench, and a cagey 1st-half witnessed one real chance when Martinique stopper Emmanuel Vermignon, making his 1st appearance of the finals, tipped over an Ataullah Guerra header before the break. The 2nd-half was similarly quiet and as soon as Piquionne and Parsemain entered the fray in the 68th minute the game changed, and after only 7 minutes it was the latter who opened the scoring with a fine goal. After picking up the ball up in midfield he ran at the Trinidad defence before cutting on to his right foot and curling it past Jan-Michael Williams. Les Matinino continued to attack and Parsemain went close with 5 minutes to go, before Piquionne had a shot well saved by Williams. However deep into injury time the FIFA side scored a controversial equaliser, Richard Roy slotting home after a hint of offside. 
Agony..Martinique leaked a late goal to force extra-time

Martinique had the better chances in extra-time but couldn't force the winner, and so the game went to penalties. After each team scored their 1st 4 kicks Piquionne saw his effort saved by Williams, allowing Guerra to send Trinidad & Tobago into the final. It was more penalty heart-break for Martinique after their Coupe de l'Outre-Mer final loss to Réunion in September and one wonders why Parsemain and Piquionne were not played from the start. Despite the agonising loss the non-FIFA team will be delighted to have made a 3rd-ever CONCACAF Gold Cup qualification, courtesy of reaching the last 4.

Match information -

Score: Martinique 1 - 1 Trinidad & Tobago* (4-5 pens)

Goals: Martinique - Kévin Parsemain 75'. Trinidad & Tobago - Richard Roy 90'.

Martinique XI: Vermignon, Anglio, Herelle [Reuperne 87'], Gustan, Cretinoir, Berdix, Delem, Bannais, Abaul, Ravi [Parsemain 68'], Joseph-Rose [Piquionne 68'].


Martinique went on to lose 1-0 to Haiti in the 3rd-place game 2 days later. The non-FIFA side soaked up pressure during both halves but managed to force extra-time, when Leonel Saint-Preux struck the only goal after 4 minutes. 

Match information - 

Score: Haiti 1 - 0 Martinique (A.E.T)

Goals: Leonel Saint-Preux 94'.

Martinique XI: Chauvet, Zaire, Anglio, Sery, Gustan [Lecefel 81'], Angely, Mainge [Piquionne 81'], Reuperne [Herelle 72'], Delem, Parsemain, Abaul.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Martinique win Outre-Mer battle, top group and send French Guiana out

Martinique ran out 3-1 winners of fellow non-FIFA side French Guiana to secure their appearance in the Caribbean Cup semi-finals, as well as a place in next summer’s Gold Cup in the United States. The defeat put out French Guiana, ending a fairy-tale campaign in which the underdogs achieved a great deal simply in getting to the finals.

After both teams shared one national anthem it was Les Matinino who started the brighter, and in the 11th minute they took the lead. A long ball out of defence was chased by Frédéric Piquionne who had the simple task of lifting the ball past Laurent Petchy for his 2nd goal of the tournament. In the 27th minute French Guiana captain Jean-Claude Darcheville tested his former Bordeaux team mate Kévin Olimpa from a free-kick but 6 minutes later it was 2-0 to Martinique. darcheville free-kick saved. Steeve Gustan, back in the side, played in Kévin Parsemain tucked the ball beynd Petchy in typically clinical fashion.

In the 2nd half Darchville brought the best out of Olimpa again from a free-kick, this time the goalkeeper tipping a powerful shot onto the bar as French Guiana urgently attempted to find a route back. They continued to press and substitute Stanley Ridel shot into the side-netting just after the hour. Piquionne headed wide in the 67th minute but with 12 minutes to go Anthony Angély wrapped up the win when he knocked home a rebound after Petchy blocked Nicolas Mirza’s shot. Darchville finally got on the score-sheet in the 81st minute when his free-kick sailed past everyone and into the net but it was mere consolation.

The 3 points mean Les Matinino will finish top, meeting Trinidad & Tobago in the semi-finals on Friday. They last reached the final 4 of the Caribbean Cup in 2001. Martinique have only reached the Gold Cup on 3 occasions, most recently in 2003, and this year’s qualification means there will be non-FIFA representation at CONCACAF’s showpiece tournament next summer. Updates from Friday’s semi-final will be available via our Twitter service @NonFIFAfootball from 19:00 (23:00 U.K).

Match information –

Score: French Guiana 1 - 3 Martinique

Goals: French Guiana – Jean-Claude Darcheville 81’. Martinique - Frédéric Piquionne 11, Kévin Parsemain 33’, Anthony Angély 78’.

French Guiana XI: Petchy; Marigard [Habran 51’], Torvic, Evens [Ridel 59’], Lesperance; Ajaiso, Jean-Jacques; Darcheville, Malouda [Adinge 51’]; Pigrée, Sophie.

Martinique XI: Olimpa; Zaire, Herelle [Reuperne?], Germany [Angély 23’], Sery; Gustan, Cretinoir, Bannais, Mirza [Ravi 80’]; Parsemain, Piquionne.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

French Guiana crash to defeat, Martinique secure important point

French Guiana slipped back down to earth with a 2-1 defeat to Cuba after substitute Ariel Martinez stunned them with 2 quick-fire 2nd half goals.

French Guiana were unchanged and had to resist some early Cuban pressure as Marcel Hernández saw his long-range shot turned away by Laurent Petchy after 8 min, before  Alberto Gómez headed wide from a corner on the quarter-hour mark. However in a classic French Guiana counter they took the lead in the 17th minute. Rhudy Evens sent the ball through to hotshot Gary Pigrée and as Odelín Molina ran of his line he slid it past the advancing Cuban goalkeeper for, remarkably, his 13th goal in his 15 internationals. The FIFA side remained on top but failed to test Petchy before the interval.

In the 2nd-half Cuba came out strongly and hit the bar after a fine strike from Jaime Colome in the 52nd minute. The pressure eventually told 20 minutes later when substitute Ariel Martinez fired a long-range equaliser past Petchy. Cuba then stunned the non-FIFA side just 120 seconds later when a long ball found Martinez who nodded home his 2nd. French Guiana were stunned and failed to exert any pressure on the Cubans, who went on to comfortably see out the win.

Match information –

Score: Cuba 2 – 1 French Guiana

Goals: Cuba - Ariel Martinez 73’, 75’. French Guiana - Gary Pigrée 17’.

French Guiana XI: Petchy; Marigard, Torvic, Evens, Lespérance; Ajaiso, Darcheville [Ridel 86’], Malouda, Sophie; Pigrée, Edwige.


Martinique played out a bland 0-0 draw with Jamaica, who find themselves bottom, as they went top of group B.

The 1st half was a lacklustre affair with few chances created by either side. In the 14th minute Kévin Parsemain had a goal ruled out for offside and 3 minutes later Arles-Avignon defender Gaël Germany watched his low shot sail wide of Dwayne Miller’s goal. Jamaica were restricted to long-range efforts though they came close in the 45th minute when Demar Phillips was unlucky to see his bicycle kick go just over Kévin Olimpa’s crossbar.

After 5 minutes of the 2nd-half William Sery put in a good block to deny Jermaine Anderson, and the Jamaican player headed over from a corner in the 59th minute. 4 minutes later the 1998 World Cup finalists were down to 10 men when Phillips was sent off somewhat harshly having received a 2nd yellow. Martinique failed to take advantage and were happy to go top of the group with 4 points.

The two non-FIFA teams will now meet on Wednesday at 17:00 (21:00 U.K) in a crucial tie for both sides. Les Matinino know a point will be enough, French Guiana will need to win. Updates will be available via our Twitter service @NonFIFAfootball.

Match information –

Score: Jamaica 0 - 0 Martinique


Martinique XI: Olimpa; Zaire, Herelle, Germany, Sery; Delem [Reuperné 85'], Cretinoir, Berdix, Mirza; Parsemain [Angély 89'], Piquionne [Joseph-Rose 82'].

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Martinique make great start in the Caribbean Cup as French Guiana pull off astounding win over holders

Martinique produced an efficient display to see off Cuba 1-0 as they made a fantastic start in Caribbean Cup group B. The 3 points give Les Matinino a real chance of reaching the last 4 and, as a result, 2013 Gold Cup.

Parsemain take a tumble vs. Cuba

Kévin Parsemain was his usual tricky self early on and he headed over in the 9th minute before he rounded Cuba goalkeeper Odelín Molina 4 minutes later only to see his shot cleared behind. Just after the quarter hour mark Alberto Gómez hit the bar for the Cubans but it was Les Matinino who struck the opener in the 29th minute. Steeve Gustan carried the ball from midfield and found Parsemain, who quickly passed to Frédéric Piquionne. The one-time France international coolly slotted the ball beyond an outstretched Molina from just inside the box to give Martinique the lead.

Piquionne went close 10 minutes into the second half when his effort went just wide of the far post. Shortly after the hour mark Jaime Colome hit the bar for Cuba from a free-kick, and soon after Parsemain saw his 20-yard strike tipped wide by Molina. The Cuban stopper was called into action in the 75th minute, parrying Gaël Germany’s very long-range shot over.  Parsemain went closer in the 82nd minute, hitting the post from 30-yards, as Les Matinino pressed. As the game approached its conclusion they sat back, and Kévin Olimpa made a fine reaction save late on to preserve his sides lead and help secure a deserved, and crucial, 3 points.

Match information –

Score: Martinique 1 – 0 Cuba

Goals: Frédéric Piquionne 29’.

Martinique XI: Olimpa; Zaire, Hérelle, Crétinoir, Berdix; Germany, Sery; Gustan [Angély 86’], Mirza; Parsemain, Piquionne [Abaul 83’].


French Guiana provided arguably the biggest shock in Caribbean Cup history as they stunned holders and favourites Jamaica to continue their fairytale journey with a 2-1 win.

Darcheville passes the ball
The non-FIFA side started well and Rhudy Evens shot wide from distance in the 14th minute, but 6 minutes later Guyanese goalkeeper Laurent Petchy was called into action making a fine save from Demar Phillips who was clear through on goal. Straight away, French Guiana broke quickly and after a strong run into the box Jean-Claude Darcheville squared to hotshot Gary Pigrée whose goalbound effort was touched in by Jamaica defender Shavar Thomas. The goal failed to stun the Jamaicans who drew level just 2 minutes later, Tremaine Stewart breaking down the right and firing over Petchy and into the net. Daley had a couple of efforts before the break as Jamaica pressed.

French Guiana were quick out the blocks in the 2nd half and it took only 3 minutes for Lesly Malouda to burst down the left and cross for Darcheville, who played in Evens, and his low shot deflected off the unfortunate Thomas and past Dwayne Miller as the non-FIFA side amazingly went ahead once more. Jamaica struggled to create any chances despite dominating the ball. Eventually with 10 minutes to go Stewart found himself in on goal but Petchy produced a superb double save to deny him. Cummins blazed over from close range in the final minute but it was all they could muster, and the Guyanese held on for an astounding win 1st-ever win over the Jamaicans.

The Guyanese meet Cuba on at 17:00 (21:00 U.K) on Monday before Martinique meet Jamaica. Updates will be available via our Twitter service @NonFIFAfootball.

Match information –

Score: Jamaica 1 - 2 French Guiana

Goals: Jamaica - Tremaine Stewart 23’. French Guiana - Gary Pigrée 20’, Rhudy Evens 48’.

French Guiana XI: Petchy; Marigard, Sophie, Torvic, Edwige; Evens, Lespérance, Ajaiso, Malouda; Darcheville [Habran 78’], Pigrée [Ridel 87’].

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Zanzibar defeat mainland rivals to finish 3rd

Zanzibar upset neighbours and rivals Tanzania to secure a fine 3rd-place finish at the CECAFA Cup after more penalty drama.

These sides met at the same stage in 2009 with the islanders winning 1-0, but it was the FIFA member who struck first this time when Mwinyi Kazimoto blasted his shot beyond deputy goalkeeper Rashid Abdalla in the 19th minute. After a nervy start Zanzibar grew in confidence and Hamad Omar headed wide in the 34th minute before captain Nadir Haroub missed the target after some poor Tanzanian defending inside the box. After the break defender Nuhu Hiji shot wide but it was the Tanzanians who came close in the 67th minute when striker John Bocco saw his header come back off the post. With the game petering out Zanzibar produced an equaliser from nowhere in the 86th minute, with substitute Abdalla Othman tucking home after Juma Kaseja could only parry Khamis Mcha’s effort. The game went to penalties and when Kazimoto hit the post it seemed the islanders had the upper-hand. However defender Massoud Said blazed his effort over and the shootout eventually went to sudden death. When Kevin Yodan missed for Tanzania Sabri Makame kept his cool to secure the 3rd-place finish for Zanzibar.

Whilst they will be disappointed with their penalty exit to Kenya in the semi-finals the Zanzibari’s had punched above their wait to reach the last 4. They also secured $10,000 prize money for finishing 3rd which will be much appreciated for the cash-strapped non-FIFA side. Their next outing will most likely be the CECAFA Cup next year, a long wait for a young and talented team.

Match information

Score: Tanzania 1 – 1 Zanzibar* (5-6 pens)

Goals: Tanzania – Mwinji Kazimoto 19’. Zanzibar – Abdalla Othman 86’.

Zanzibar XI: R.Abdalla; Haroub, Said, Haji, Morris; Makame, Kassim [Ally 78’], Mcha, Juma [Omar 32’], Gulam [Othman 74’]; S.Abdalla.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Outre-Mer teams prepare for Caribbean Cup showdown

French overseas (Outre-Mer) teams have been a staple at recent Caribbean Cup finals. Indeed, Guadeloupe and Martinique have made 5 appearances at the last 3 editions between them. It’s a similar story this year in Antigua & Barbuda however, there is a twist. Whilst Les Matinino, as Martinique are known, will feature so too will French Guiana who hadn't even entered qualification since the 2005 tournament. To spice things up even more the two teams were drawn together in group B alongside holders Jamaica and Cuba.

Piquionne's Premiership experience
could be key
Since a disappointing performance in the last Caribbean Cup, Martinique have been on fine run losing just twice in their last 15 games. The defeats were to Confederations Cup finalists Tahiti and fellow non-FIFA side Guadeloupe, who they knocked out in qualification in October. Les Matinino scored a staggering 29 goals in their 6 qualifiers with hot-shot Kevin Parsemain bagging 11. The experienced Steeve Gustan often joins him up-front and the forward line will be greatly boosted by the call-up of Frédéric Piquionne, recently released by West Ham United. The inclusion of 6 overseas players boosts their backline in particular, with Arles-Avignon defender Gaël Germany and Bordeaux goalkeeper Kévin Olimpa likely to start. The island last qualified for the Gold Cup in 2003 and with their current form will fancy this to be their best chance since.  Much will depend on their opening game, tomorrow against Cuba, but they have a more than realistic chance of making it to the United States next summer.

French Guiana line-up a free-kick
vs. Haiti
French Guiana were perhaps the most surprising qualifier, having only made the finals once before way back in 1995. The Guyanese have played more games in 2012 than the entire 7 years previous, and they raised eyebrows when they knocked out hosts Grenada and larger neighbours Guyana to reach the finals. Striker Gary Pigrée scored 7 goals during qualification including the winner in a shock victory over regional big-boys Haiti. Former Rangers forward Jean-Claude Darcheville was important in their campaign but at the age of 37 he can’t be relied on. Lens defender Ludovic Baal is another experienced name, along with Dijon’s Lesly Malouda, brother of Florent. French Guiana might find it a bridge too far in Antigua but given their performances so far it would be foolish to write them off.

Both teams start their campaign tomorrow night with Martinique taking on Cuba at 17:00 local time (21:00 U.K.) followed by Jamaica versus French Guiana at 19:00 (23:00 U.K). All the group matches are on our fixtures page. Updates will be available via our Twitter service @NonFIFAfootball.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Zanzibar suffer semi-final penalty heartbreak

Zanzibar’s courageous CECAFA Cup campaign came to a painful end as they were beaten 4-2 on penalties by Kenya after a thrilling 2-2 draw.

Both sides showed attacking intent early on despite few real chances being created. Indeed it was Zanzibar’s first real opportunity that resulted in the opening goal when Azam F.C. forward Khamis Mcha showed neat footwork to tuck his shot beyond goalkeeper Duncan Ochieng with 21 minutes played, his 3rd goal of the campaign. Kenya proceeded to push further up the pitch and it paid off on the half hour when Zanzibar skipper Nadir Haroub inadvertently diverted striker Mike Baraza’s low shot past Ali Mwadini and into his own net as he attempted to block the effort. The Kenyans cranked up the pressure from thereon in and Mwadini was fortunate to see his poor clearance deflect off his own player Jaku Juma and onto the post, before he redeemed himself with a superb double-save in the 43rd minute to deny Baraza and then Humphrey Mieno.

Zanzibar players leave the field
Zanzibar were the first to go close after the break when Abdi Kassim fired wide, and the Kenyans eventually cracked with 15 minutes to go when midfielder Anthony Kimani felled Juma in the box. Aggrey Morris confidently dispatched the penalty and the non-FIFA side looked on course for a remarkable win. However the dream was short lived, and in the 78th minute Baraza leapt highest to head home a David Ochieng cross. Neither side managed to seize the initiative so the game went to extra-time. The 1st period was cagey, with Edwin Lavatsa lifting Kenya’s best effort wide. After the extra-time break Juma had a goal controversially disallowed for Zanzibar who were dominating. Adeyom Saleh was then given his marching orders with 3 minutes to go but there was no Kenyan siege; indeed Nassor Said came close for the islanders with a long-range effort. And so the game went to penalties. Any hopes of a second straight shootout success were looking slim when Mcha and Abdalla Othman failed to hit the target with Zanzibar’s 1st spot kicks. Kenya scored all there penalties, and despite successful conversions from Gozi Makame and Kassim it was up to Kenyan defender Abdallah Juma to fire the FIFA side into the final.

It was agony for the islanders who exited a tournament at the semi-final stage for the 2nd time in 2012. They will meet the mainland rivals Tanzania on Saturday in the 3rd-place game, a traditionally intense fixture which will be dampened by both teams disappointment. Kick-off is at 16:00 (13:00 U.K) and updates will be available via our Twitter service @NonFIFAfootball.

Match information –

Score: Zanzibar 2 – 2 Kenya* (2-4 pens)

Goals: Zanzibar – Khamis Mcha 21’, Aggrey Morris (p) 75’. 
          Kenya – Nadir Haroub (o.g) 31’, Mike Baraza 78’.

Zanzibar XI: Mwadini; Haroub, Ali [Humoud 49’], Said, Morris; Saleh, Makame, Othman, Kassim, Mcha; Joma.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Interview #2 (December 2012) – Former Pohnpei manager Paul Watson.

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) are a rare thing in non-FIFA football. Along with 8 others they are one of the last remaining full sovereign states who are not members of the world governing body. Yawning distances between the 4 main islands that make up the country (Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae) make it effectively impossible for a national league or team to be set up. The Pacific state also suffers from a lack of sporting direction and, with American influences, other games take precedence over football.

Despite this the FSM national team has managed a handful of games most notably at their only Pacific Games appearance in 2003, but they crashed to a series of double-digit defeats before the government decided it wasn’t worth the investment to send a team again. The FSMFA was set up in 1999 and attended a FIFA congress the year after but slowly they were pushed away from the organisation. Despite flirtations with the Ocean Football Confederation (OFC) and more recently the EAFF East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) the islands have remained on the outskirts of international football.
Fiji 2003: the last FSM national team.

Englishman Paul Watson discovered a bleak situation when he moved to Pohnpei to coach football in 2008. Despite limited resources and a chaotic set-up Watson managed to get the island side over to FIFA member Guam for a series of friendlies. The story of his incredible adventure is worth a read in his book Up Pohnpei. With Watson now back in the U.K. we spoke to him to discuss what the future has in store for the islands, and how unhelpful FIFA were during his time there.

NFFU: We understand that Micronesia have recently applied to become members of FIFA via the EAFF. Has there been any news on the application?

PW: As I understand it, the application has been in for well over a year and the FSM FA have simply been told to wait. The next stage would be for someone to come and have a look round the facilities and the way the game is currently being run - they would then compile a report and the wait would begin again.

NFFU: Are you hopeful?

PW: My honest feeling is that the governing bodies are waiting it out and hoping FSM goes quiet again because of the logistical difficulties in helping them. The process moves at a glacial rate and people running football in FSM are doing so for free, so being made to wait this long is very tough.

NFFU: It seems that the islands have had limited (if any) help from FIFA. How frustrating was coordination with the worlds governing body during your time there?

PW: Dealing with FIFA was a nightmare - they didn't want to help at all and were insistent upon a chain of administrative red tape that baffled and frustrated me. To try and impose such bureaucracy on Pacific Islanders who really need help is pathetic.

NFFU: You have to be a regional confederation member before joining FIFA. How did advances towards the OFC go whilst you were in FSM?

PW: We started off contacting OFC and actually had a lot of guidance from Tai Nicholas, who really seemed to want to help. The problem was that funds are short in the OFC, especially now that Australia have moved. The other factor was that Micronesia is closer geographically to countries in the EAFF - it made sense to follow Guam and we were encouraged to do so.

NFFU: Does it seem odd that Niue, who’ve played only 2 games and not since 1983, are affiliated to the OFC and Micronesia are not?

PW: In a way, yes, but Niue is a long way away from the FSM and very much in Oceania rather than East Asia. As for whether Niue should be affiliated or not - that's a tough one. Niue is tiny and football isn't even the main sport, so it would seem an unlikely place to successfully develop football, but that doesn't mean it couldn't work if the right support was given - it just never has been.

NFFU: The distance between the islands is phenomenal. Do you believe a national league and team can ever be created bearing in mind this problem?

PW: It will be extremely tough. Funding is the key. The distances are one thing but they can be crossed - it's the flight prices that can't be negotiated at the moment. I think the logical step would be to run a state league on each of the islands, pick the best players to represent their island in a Micronesian Cup and from there pick a national FSM team, which would meet at training camps, which moved between the islands.

Watson oversees a Pohnpei training session.
NFFU: Football looks off the cards for the 2013 FSM (inter-state) games. How damaging do you think this is for the sport?

PW: It's a pity because it would've been a great time to get the building blocks for a national team and show the governing bodies that FSM is serious about football. But, once again it's a Catch 22 situation: how can anyone expect the flights for at least 40 athletes to be paid for with the modest budget the Games has?

NFFU: Do you believe a FSM national team will participate at the 2014 Micronesian (International) Games?

PW: I think 2014 may be too soon. The first stage has to be ensuring a grassroots structure in place on all the islands. There are a few stages before a national team could be built. Once again, it all depends on the EAFF though.

NFFU: Has the league you helped create in Pohnpei continued to flourish since your departure?

PW: Yes, the league has grown and now more people are playing than ever before. The problem lies in keeping standards high when there's no external opposition and no encouragement to reach the top.

NFFU: It’s difficult to relate but if you had to give a comparison of the standard in the Pohnpei team to a level in England what would you say is roughly right?

PW: I just don't think it can be compared. There were players who could acquit themselves in the Ryman League [English level 7-8] I reckon, but that's complete speculation.  

NFFU: Do you plan on returning to FSM in the future?

PW: I'd love to, but sadly I can't imagine ever being able to afford to. Flights cost £2000 return and I'm still in debt from my time there. If the FSM FA ever had money to pay a salary to a coach I would encourage them to use it to train up locals on each island instead of bringing in a foreigner.

NFFU: How are plans for a documentary on your story going?

PW: Very well. The documentary should be finished by spring 2013. Matt Conrad is working hard on that and has produced a new trailer which is great.

NFFU: Finally, if you had to give an honest answer, how long do you think it’ll be (if ever) before Micronesia participate in a World Cup qualifier?

PW: That's a tough one! I always believed when I was there that it would happen, but I have lost some of my optimism over the last couple of years. Realistically it won't be for another decade or so, but it's a very long way off. I would just love for there to be someone on each island being paid to run the sport so the next generation will get a chance to play.

Zanzibar march on after penalty shootout joy

Zanzibar stunned FIFA side Burundi to reach the last 4 of the 2012 CECAFA Cup thanks to a penalty shootout victory after a goalless draw.
Zanzibar celebrate the shootout victory

Salum Nassor named an attack minded team and they created the first real chances with Khamis Mcha failing to hit the target in the 20th minute before Abdi Kassim fired over on the half-hour. The non-FIFA side had dominated possession but in the 37th minute Ali Mwadini was forced to make a smart save from a powerful Emery Nimubona free-kick. Burundi then came back into the match and on the stroke of half time Mwadini again had to be equal to a Nimubona effort, and the sides went in goalless. In the 2nd-half Burundi dominated and went close on several occasions. In the 63rd minute captain Selemani Ndikumana saw his shot cleared off the line after a lengthy spell of pressure and 8 minutes later Styve Nzigamasabo fired narrowly over. Nimubona went close again before Mcha shot wide in a rare Zanzibar attack late on. Neither side could find a goal and with no extra-time the game was to be decided on penalties. After Ndikumana skied Burundi’s first penalty the islanders were looking good until captain Nadir Haroub pulled his effort wide. The shootout went to sudden death when Gaël Duhayindavyi and Aggrey Morris both converted to continue the drama. Ali Mwadini then made a stunning save to deny Abdoul Fiston which allowed Abdalla Othman, who entered the game in the final minute, to send the non-FIFA team through 6-5 on spot kicks.

Coach Nassor said of his players after the game "these boys are so determined and hungry for success". The islanders have surprised many to reach this stage of the competition and they'll meet Kenya in the semi-final on Thursday. Kick-off is at 19:00 (16:00 U.K.) and updates will be available via our Twitter service @NonFIFAfootball.

Match information –

Score: Burundi 0 – 0 Zanzibar* (5-6 pens)

Zanzibar XI: Mwadini; Haroub, Ali, Morris; S.Makame, Abdalla, Ally [Othman 89’], Kassim, Mcha; Juma, Azizi.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Zanzibar through despite Malawi loss

Zanzibar progressed to their 3rd straight CECAFA Cup quarter-finals despite a 2-0 loss to Malawi. The non-FIFA side went through as the best 3rd-placed team and their qualification was assured earlier in the day when Sudan and Somalia both lost in group B.

Perhaps the fact Zanzibar knew they’d made the last 8 had an effect on their mentality as they found themselves 2 goals down after just 6 minutes. Needing a point to seal their own progress Malawi poured forward from the start and after 3 minutes midfielder Ndaziona Chatsalir fired them ahead. The FIFA side continued to attack and only 6 minutes in they were awarded a penalty, which striker Chiukepo Msowoya confidently dispatched. From thereon in both sides seemed happy to settle with the result as they conserved their energy, both knowing they’d be making quarter-final appearances.

The non-FIFA side now take on Burundi on Monday afternoon in the last 8. The FIFA side topped group B with maximum points but Zanzibar are unbeaten in their last 3 games against Les Hirondelles, comfortably winning 3-0 when they met most recently in 2009. The game kicks-off at 16:00 (13:00 U.K) and updates will be available via our Twitter service @NonFIFAFootball.

Match information –

Score: Malawi 2 – 0 Zanzibar

Goals: Ndaziona Chatsalir 3' Chiukepo Msowoya 6' (p).

Zanzibar XI: Not known/to come.