Friday, 29 March 2013

Interview #5 (March 2013): Occitània captain Boris Massaré

Founded in 2003 the Associacion Occitània de Fotbòl (AOF) joined the N.F.-Board in 2005 and since then Occitània have been one of the most regular and principled non-FIFA teams. The association was set up to help preserve the medieval language of Occitan, which is in danger of disappearing, and a 1999 census concluded that only 610,000 people still spoke the medieval language. For several years now activists have been working hard to maintain the Occitan culture which has been attempted to be eradicated by France for hundreds of years.

Massaré in last summer's Europeada
The AOF hosted the first-ever VIVA World Cup in inauspicious conditions back in 2006 but since then the team has gone from strength to strength, competing in the past 3 tournaments. Their high-point was a 3rd-place finish in 2010 and they were unlucky not to make the semi-finals last summer, ultimately coming 5th. The team is drawn from semi-professional players ranging from the 3rd-6th levels in France but every member must speak some Occitan in order to play. Indeed, manager Didier Amiel includes Occitan lessons when the team is competing at a tournament. Occitània also compete in the Europeada, the second of two quarter-final exits coming last summer. 

They are one of few N.F.-Board members who regularly play friendlies and their improvement is clear for everyone to see – last March they beat Sápmi 3-2, a team who’d beaten them 7-0 at the 2006 VIVA. This month we spoke to captain Boris Massaré, a 26-year old midfielder who currently plays in the Danish 2nd Division for Kjellerup IF.

NFFU: Would you say that the 2012 VIVA was the best one you've played in so far?

Ahead of a 2012 VIVA game versus Western Sahara
BM: Talking about level, I have to say the last VIVA in Kurdistan was the best. Also I enjoy more and more sharing different cultures with opponents from, for instance, Western Sahara, Kurdistan and Tamils from Sri Lanka. Talking about cultural exchange, I think the competition still has to increase. For me, it’s not about staying in a 5 star hotel but about bringing people together and opening doors between civilizations.

NFFU: How would you compare the standard of teams playing in 2012 to 2009 and 2010?

BM: I’d say each team is increasing their level due to the fact every year there are more nations joining the competition.  There are good, skilled teams like Northern Cyprus and Zanzibar who played for the first time in 2012.

NFFU: The Occitan team is one of the more active N.F.-Board members but you haven’t played since the Europeada last summer, why so?

BM: We had an away game planned for December 2012 either with Sápmi or Galicia but they both cancelled a few weeks before, so it was difficult to organize another game. Also the 2012 summer was full of travels and we need to get more sponsors to be able to travel now. However from now, we plan to play 3 games each year with 2 home games in March and October and 1 away game in the end of December. These periods will best suit our players because in regard to the French Federation of Football calendar. The most difficult part is to find teams able to travel to Toulouse (Tolosa in Occitan) or Montpellier (Montpelhièr). 

NFFU: How do you rate the Europeada compared to the VIVA?

BM: About the level, VIVA is averagely better but the best teams of Europeada may have the same level as the best VIVA teams. For example, South Tyrol, Carinthian Slovenes and Lusatia Sorbs could play a close game with Kurdistan, Northern Cyprus or Zanzibar. Regarding the organisation and the cultural exchange Europeada is really a wonderful competition with teams eating together after the game and a cultural day where we learn about each other nations represented (music, dance, food etc.).

NFFU: How does the Occitània team promote the Occitan culture? It’s correct that every player must speak Occitan right?

Language lessons with the team
BM: At the Europeada we had the opportunity to teach Occitan songs to each of our opponents. One of the best promotions of Occitan culture was on the stage during the cultural day when we presented to all the other teams who we are. We also have some Occitan courses during each time the selection gather for a game or a competition in order to increase our language skills. It is basically learning sentences but also songs and history, we have a lot of fun during these sessions and it is one of the best times to share and improve team spirit.

NFFU: How did you first hear about the Occitània team?

BM: I myself did not know almost anything about Occitània before entering the team except that I remember my grandparents using Occitan expressions when I was a kid like "es tissós" (you are teasing) or "qu'es aquò?" (what is it?). When Occitània was about to change coach after Europeada 2008 I was contacted by the manager to play the next game against Monaco on in November in order to prepare for the next VIVA World Cup in Italy.

NFFU: Is there much support for the side when you play games in France?

BM: It depends when and where we organize the game. If the event is organized in partnership with an Occitan festival, it could be a good audience like the in Toulouse against Sápmi in March 2012. The game was filmed by national French TV and was followed by a gathering with Occitan food. It was a successful game, not only because we won but we managed to make more people interested about what we are doing. If you go to stadium, you can see that for almost each football club from south of France playing in Ligue 1 (Olympique Marseille, Toulouse FC, Montpellier HSC) there are groups of supporters who will show our Occitània flag - in Toulouse they even sing our anthem!

NFFU: Provence have caused controversy in some parts of the non-FIFA world due to the fact it is an area within Occitània and has few factors that differentiate it from France. What are your thoughts? Do you think they should be N.F.-Board members?

The skipper faces the Kurdistan media
BM: Geographically and historically, Provence is one of the several regions of Occitània. The other regions in France are now Aquitaine, Limousin, Auvergne, PACA, Midi-Pyrenees and Languedoc Roussillon. There is also an Occitan province in Spain (region of Catalunya) called the Aran valley where Occitan is recognized as an official language since 1990. Also, there are Occitan provinces in Italy (Cuneo, Torino, Imperia and Guardia Piemontese) where the language received legal status in 1999.To come back to your question, I think the world is big enough to have room for everyone and I also think everyone should be able to decide about the place he wants to have.

NFFU: Would you ever arrange a game against Provence?

BM: From now, we have different point of views and wishes that does not allow us to play a game with them. There are focusing only on football and we are working on something centered more on the human and cultural side of the sport.

NFFU: What plans does the Occitan team have for 2013?

BM: We might be playing 2 home friendlies on 20th May 2013 against Raetia and in June 2013 with Quebec. Then we will travel to Isle of Man to play Tynwald Hill Tournament between 3rd and 7th July 2013 with Tamil Eelam, Alderney, Chagos Islands, St John’s United and Sealand. On 1st November we are trying to organize a home game in Toulouse or Muret with Kurdistan. We are also willing to travel at the end of December to Northern Cyprus or Galicia. But, at the moment, only the Tynwald Hill tournament is confirmed.

NFFU: Do you plan on attending the 2014 VIVA World Cup?

BM: We hope to play at the 2014 VIVA World Cup and hopefully the organization will be better than the last editions. Everything will depend on the location, our sponsors and the directions the N.F.-Board wants to take.

NFFU: What is your best memory playing for Occitània?

The opening 2009 VIVA match, one of Massaré's
(bottom row, far left) fondest memories
BM: Many. The opening game of 2009 VIVA World Cup in Italy, the memorial game we played for one of our teammates who died and of course the game in Kurdistan against the hosts with the big crowd against us. But I would say each game has the same emotional intensity and my heart beats stronger when we start singing our national anthem "Se Canta".

NFFU: Finally, if you could pick one non-FIFA team in the whole world to play, who would it be and why?

BM: I would say Catalonia because our culture, location and language are so similar. It's just that they are more recognized and that's a good thing they still keep talking Catalan. Sadly, our grandparents were forbidden to speak it and especially at schools when the French regime wanted to force people to have a single and unique language for all the country. There were seen like peasants or idiots if they used Occitan words. Like Bretons, Alsaciens, Corses or Basques the languages of minorities were bad treated.
I would like to conclude the interview with "plan mercés e a lèu lèu" (thank you and see you soon).

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Jersey cruise past Alderney to reach Muratti final

Photos via Leon Gladwell
Jersey ran riot against Alderney earlier today to secure a May 18th Muratti final meeting with old rivals Guernsey. Despite the hosts scoring more than one goal in the semi-final, something they have not achieved since 1961, Jersey had done their damage by half time with braces from skipper Luke Watson and Jamie Savory helping them to a 7-0 lead at the break. Despite a spirited second period the 7 goal margin remained.
Photos via Leon Gladwell

The visitors stamped their authority on the game from the off and in the 9th minute Jamie Mourant tested goalkeeper Chris Chadney will a well struck effort. 3 minutes later and Jersey were ahead when captain Luke Watson fired in a splendid free kick which beat Chadney all ends up. 23-year old Craig Russell was on hand to double the lead in the 14th minute when he was in the right place at the right time to finish from close range. 2 minutes later and the visitors continued their siege on the Alderney goal with more success as Mourant’s effort took a deflection on its way in. Any hope the hosts had of Jersey taking their foot off the gas were gone in the 32nd minute, Ben Gallichan rifling his effort into the corner. 3 minutes later and Jamie Savory joined in the goal spree when he was quickest to react after Russell’s shot bounced back off the bar. Savory added another in the 40th minute before turning provider moments later, supplying an inch perfect cross which Watson nodded beyond Chadney to complete a first period of utter dominance for Jersey.
Photos via Leon Gladwell

The visitors made a couple of changes after the interval and Alderney cashed in, pulling back a consolation in the 52nd minute when Chris Johns capitalised on a mistake by goalkeeper Craig Fletcher to make it 7-1. However just 3 minutes after and Jersey were at it again, Jack Cannon firing a free kick beyond Chadney which clipped the bar on its way in. Substitute Jay Giles produced a tidy finish from a difficult angle in the 57th minute to extend Jersey’s tally to 9. However Alderney continued to keep their heads up and pulled back another goal in the 62nd minute when Fletcher flapped at a Ross Benfield free kick, and the defender saw his effort fly into the net in similar fashion to the strike he scored against Sealand. With that Jersey were happy to play out the rest of the game as casual pace and settle for a comfortable semi-final win, matching a 7 goal margin they achieved in 2008.

Photos via Leon Gladwell
Alderney captain Andy Lawrence felt his side shouldn't have been behind by such a margin at the break "I think the score flattered them and our second half performance is something we can take great pride in"". The win confirmed the traditional Muratti final meeting between rivals Guernsey and Jersey on May 18th. Exclusive photos of the game today will be available tomorrow. After a busy month non-FIFA football takes a break with the Channel Islands showdown the next game on fixture list. The full photo gallery, kindly provided for us by Leon Gladwell, is available here.

Match information

Score: Alderney 2 - 9 Jersey

GoalsAlderney – Chris Johns 52’ Ross Benfield 62’. Jersey – Luke Watson 12’, 41’ Craig Russell 14’ Jamie Mourant 16’ Ben Gallichan 32’ Jamie Savory 35’, 40’ Jack Cannon 55’ Jay Giles 57’.

Alderney XI: Chadney; McCormick [Foster 46'], Atkins, Benfield, Aldcroft; Phelan [Stretton 60'], Concanen, Johns, Malloy [Bohan 71']; Lawrence, McCulloch.

Jersey XI: Fletcher; Scott, Cannon, LeFeuvre, Campbell [Reid 50’]; Mourant, Grierson, Gallichan [Giles 46’], Watson; Savory, Russell [Parkinson 71'].

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Alderney more confident than normal ahead of Muratti semi with Jersey

Jersey have won every meeting with fellow Channel Islanders Alderney, with each of their 43 wins over the Ridunians coming in the yearly tournament, and it’s hard to see the script being torn up this time. The hosts have not scored in the Muratti since Liam Davey’s goal in 2006 game and they lost 2-1 to Sealand last weekend in a friendly, but the camp is positive. Jersey spent the early part of the week stranded in London due to the weather as they returned from their UEFA Regions Cup campaign in San Marino, where they were narrowly edged out by Northern Ireland.
Hopeful...Lawrence against Sealand last weekend.

Alderney’s best Muratti result against Jersey was 106 years ago when they lost 2-1 after extra time and they’ve lost by one goal on just 3 other occasions, most recently in 2002. Despite this captain Andy Lawrence is more confident than normal telling us “I think it’s the best squad we’ve had for a few years”. The striker scored in last year’s 1-1 draw with Sealand at the same ground and explained that the 2 games against the N.F.-Board side have helped his team prepare mentally for the Muratti. They haven’t met Jersey since 2010 when they lost 3-0 and Lawrence stated “hopefully we can improve on our last meeting with them”. Manager Alan Adamson is expected to make just one change from the team that faced Sealand last weekend with Stirling University F.C. defender Jason Atkins likely to replace John Adamson in central defence.

Loss...Jack Boyle (red) in last years defeat to Guernsey.
Having been grounded in London on their return from San Marino this week Jersey will be keen to bounce back from their heart-breaking exit from the UEFA Regions Cup with a win. Craig Culkin will pick from the same squad that completed credible wins over Ireland and San Marino last week and assistant manager David Kennedy explained to us “we set ourselves high standards in the UEFA Regions Cup and we aim to continue these standards in Alderney”, though he stressed the respect his team will offer the hosts. Should Jersey win on Saturday it will likely be his teams’ last competitive fixture until the final, in stark contrast to Guernsey and their busy end to the Combined Counties season. Experienced striker Craig Russell is always a threat with Jack Cannon and Luke Campbell also capable of scoring when it matters. Luke Watson is expected to retain the captaincy.
Brace...Ross Crick opens the scoring in the 2010 semi.

Muratti semi-final results since Alderney last scored
2012 - Alderney 0-7 Guernsey
2011 - Alderney 0-5 Guernsey
2010 - Alderney 0-3 Jersey
2009 - Alderney 0-5 Guernsey
2008 - Alderney 0-7 Jersey
2007 - Alderney 0-4 Guernsey
2006 - Alderney 1-4 Jersey

The game kicks-off at 13:00 with a good crowd expected for the annual tie and we will provide updates via our Twitter service @NonFIFAfootball. A match report and exclusive photos will follow the game on the blog. 

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Sealand come from behind to topple Alderney in maiden win

N.F.-Board side Sealand saw off Island Games Association members Alderney 2-1 in a thrilling friendly held in Godalming. The islanders took a first-half lead through Ross Benfield only to be pegged back just before the interval by Paul Wood. Ryan Moore struck the winner with 19 minutes remaining to secure the Sealanders first-ever international win, as well as to move himself to the top of the teams record scoring charts.

Record holder...Moore (red) got the winner.
After a late change of venue the two sides took to the rain-soaked pitch with attacking intent. The visitors had the first clear cut chance and in the 14th minute captain Andy Lawrence was unlucky to see his effort go wide of Tom McIntosh’s left-hand post after good link up play with Joshua McCulloch. Sealand were shading possession when, in the 33rd minute, Alderney took the lead. Ross Benfield floated in a free kick from the right channel and the ball evaded everyone, flying over McIntosh and into the net. The Channel Islanders were galvanised by the goal but their rhythm was disrupted right on the stroke of half time. Left-back Paul Wood got forward and his weak effort looked simple for Chris Chadney, but the ball wriggled underneath the goalkeepers’ body and crossed the line for 1-1.

Burst...Ralf Little (no.7) races onto a lay-off.
Both sides continued to attack in the second half with Alan Forsyth firing over for the N.F.-Board side before substitute Chay Press headed into the side netting. At the other end McIntosh was called into action making a smart save to turn away Lawrence’s effort in the 68th minute. Midfielder Dan Thorogood shot over from distance as the micronation had more of the ball, Neil Forsyth skewing a volley moments later. The goal eventually game in the 71st minute when Wood hung a cross into the box which Press nodded on, and Ryan Moore was on hand at the far post to tuck home his second goal for Sealand. A goal down Alderney had no choice to press which left them exposed at the back, Phil Evorano and Robert Codner missing good chances. With 5 minutes remaining Ashley Foster’s free-kick flew inches wide of substitute 'keeper Will Dukes' goal but the N.F.-Board side were able to hold the ball up at the other end and hang on for the win. A full gallery of photos kindly provided by Henry Ascoli is available here.

Sealand are scheduled to meet the Chagos Islands in London on Wednesday night as they look to stretch their unbeaten record to 3 games. Alderney will be pleased with the game as preparation for their big match next Saturday in the Muratti semi-final against Jersey. Both games will be covered by us on Twitter.

Match information –

Score: Sealand 2 - 1 Alderney

Goals: Sealand – Paul Wood 44’ Ryan Moore 71’. Alderney – Ross Benfield 33’.

Sealand XI: McIntosh [Dukes 84’]; A. Forsyth [Addington 75’], Akinwunmi [Press 67’], N Forsyth, Wood; Little, Codner, Thorogood, Moore; Evorano [Stubbs 84’], Darboe.

Alderney XI: Chadney; McCormick [Foster 46’], Adamson [Stretton 55’], Benfield, Aldcroft; Phelan [Macfarlane 60’], Concanen, Johns [Vizard 76’], Malloy; Lawrence [Bohen 76’], McCulloch.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Sealand set for Alderney and Chagos Islands matches

Sealand go head-to-head with two teams they faced last year as they first take on Alderney in Godalming on Saturday before meeting the Chagos Islands in east London on Wednesday night. The Channel Islanders played host to the Sealanders last August with the N.F.-Board side winning on penalties following a 1-1 draw. The Chagossians outclassed their N.F.-Board rivals earlier on in the summer, winning 3-1 in May.

Hitman...Ryan Moore is Sealand's main threat in attack.
Sealand vs. Alderney
The N.F.-Board side will use Weycourt for the second time as Alderney fly to the mainland for the 1 o’clock kick-off. Sealand will use a similar squad to both of their games last year as the SNFA continue their return from the non-FIFA wilderness. With former Aberdeen goalkeeper Derek Stillie unavailable for this game Thomas McIntosh starts in goal in front of a defence including Neil Forsyth. Ralf Little will be important in midfield along with former Brighton player Robert Codner. The main attacking threat is Ryan Moore, who scored against Chagos last year. Alderney will be using the game as preparation for their Muratti Vase semi-final meeting with Jersey next weekend. The islanders have a full squad to choose from minus Scotland-based student Jason Atkins, with his centre-back role set to be covered by Matt Aldcroft and Andrew Adamson. Andy Lawrence will be the focal point in the visitors attack and the captain is keen to take on Sealand again telling us “we are looking forward to testing ourselves”. A tight game, much like the last meeting, is likely.
Muratti...last years semi-final.

Alderney last 3 games –
25/8/2012 - Alderney 1-1 Sealand*
17/3/2012 – Alderney 0-7 Guernsey
30/6/2011 – Alderney 0-3 Falkland Islands

Sealand vs. Chagos Islands
Clapton F.C. will play host to the game against the Chagos Islands, a 19:45 kick-off the Wednesday after. Goalkeeper Stillie will return for Sealand in their only change. The Chagossians have a full-strength team available with veteran Johnny Edmond, a former Mauritius international, likely to be pulling the strings behind a powerful strike-force of Mervin Bhujan and Miguel Mandarin. The pace of the Chagos attack will cause Sealand problems and at the other end captain Christopher Uranie is a solid centre-back. With former Micronesia manager Paul Watson teaming up with non-FIFA writer Ed Stubbs and the current Chagossian management after this game, with the aim of reaching the 2014 VIVA World Cup, these are the start of exciting times for the Chagos Islands team.
Youngster...Miguel Mandarin in last years match.

Chagos Isl. last 2 games (1st in '11)
5/5/2012 – Sealand 1-3 Chagos
4/12/2011 – Chagos 6-1 Raetia

Both games are £3 entry. Updates will be available via our Twitter service @NonFIFAfootball with match reports to follow. 

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Improved NMI conclude maiden Challenge Cup adventure

The Northern Mariana Islands ended their debut AFC Challenge Cup as they put in a vastly improved defensive performance losing just 3-0 to Bangladesh. Indeed the Blue Ayuyu's were unlucky not to get a goal themselves but ultimately strikes from Mohammad Toklis and Hossain Rony saw the Bangladeshi's win, though they missed a penalty and numerous other openings.

Brave...Adachi (no. 18) and his team fought hard.
For the 3rd game in a row the non-FIFA team conceded an early goal, this time Mohammad Toklis taking just 47 seconds to plant a header beyond Johann Noetzel. The NMI stopper had conceded 23 goals in his last 3 international outings before this match but the veteran had been key in keeping the other Challenge Cup scores down, and he was on hand to make his 2nd penalty save in as many games in the 12th minute when he turned Mithun Chowdury’s spot-kick round the post after the Abhani Limited striker was up-ended in the box. The FIFA side continued to dominate and in the 28th minute Hossain Rony found himself unmarked in the box saw his effort punched away by the ever-busy Noetzel. The striker did get on the score-sheet in the 38th minute when he headed home for his 3rd goal of the qualifiers. Further pressure failed to result in any goals and it was 2-0 at the break.

Solid...another Noetzel penalty save
kept the score down.
In the 52nd minute Mohammad Nasir should have added a 3rd but he shot wide from close range, and 3 minutes later Toklis was flagged offside after he’d poked Mithun Chowdhury’s free-kick past Noetzel. In the 68th minute the islanders nearly scored a sensational 1st goal of the campaign as Joe Miller played in William Dunn, but the veteran defender didn’t have luck on his side as his effort rattled back off the post. Noetzel made numerous saves as the FIFA side tried to add more goals but the former Dallas draft was in imperious form. He was eventually beaten again with 7 minutes remaining when Toklis completed a flowing team move to make the score 3-0. Defender Mohamed Linkon put the icing on the cake for Bangladesh in injury time as he calmly finished past Noetzel for his 1st international goal.

Whilst being a clearly outclassed in each match the Northern Mariana Islands defeats were by no means disgraced in what was their first full participation in the Asian Football Confederation, against some comparatively powerful sides. The islanders will have a long break after their extensive dedication to this tournament but will likely play again later this year to take on Guam in the Marianas Cup.

Match information – 

Score: Bangladesh 2–0 Northern Mariana Islands

Goals: Mohammad Toklis 1’, 83' Hossain Rony 38’ Mohamed Linkon 90 (+1)

Northern Mariana Islands XI: Noetzel; Dunn, Knecht, Swaim, Westphal, Jeon; McKagen [Joyner 88'], Barry, Adachi [Zapanta 77'], Loken; Miller.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Blue Ayuyu's outclassed in Palestine thumping

Palestine fired 9 goals past the Northern Mariana Islands in Kathmandu as the non-FIFA side matched their record defeat in AFC Challenge Cup qualification earlier today. 23-year old striker Khaled Salem bagged a hat-trick for the FIFA side with impressive midfielder Abdelhamid Abuhabib and Alaa’ Attieh both scoring a brace. The 9-0 score-line was the same trouncing neighbours Guam handed out the Northern Mariana’s back in April 2007, their previous biggest loss.

Pace...Barakat runs past NMI captain Dunn
The Pacific islanders went close to a shock lead in the 5th minute when captain and record-scorer Joe Miller curled a free-kick narrowly over Toufic Ali’s goal. However 2 minutes later the FIFA side took the lead when Khaled Salem found himself in too much space in the box and finished beyond Johann Noetzel as the Blue Ayuyu’s rued another poor defensive start in this qualification campaign. Adham Abu Rwais nearly made it 2 in the 16th minute but his effort was turned away by Noetzel at full stretch. 5 minutes later William Dunn gave away the Northern Marianas second penalty in as many games and midfielder Abdelhamid Abuhabib made no mistake to double the lead. Smelling blood the Palestinians continued to press and in the 23rd minute they made it 3 when Ittihad Shajaeya striker Alaa' Attieh was on hand to turn home from close range after Noetzel parried a long-range effort. The onslaught continued and in the 27th minute it was 4-0. After Dunn committed a foul on the edge of the box Abuhabib effortlessly curled home a free-kick, his 4th international goal. Haytham Theeb hit the post on the half hour as Palestine continued to toy with the islanders and in the 35th minute yet another penalty was conceded. This time, however, former FC Dallas draft Noetzel produced a fine save to deny Mohamed Barakat from the spot to keep the half-time score 4-0.

Calm before the storm...NMI pre-match
In the 53rd minute Noetzel was again on hand to keep the score town as he palmed Abuhabib’s close range shot round the post. The Blue Ayuyu’s held out until the 67th minute before conceding again, this time Theeb getting in on the act.  9 minutes later it was 6-0 as Salem got the better of Noetzel, nodding home from inside the 6-yard box. The non-FIFA side were shattered and in the final 10 minutes they collapsed conceding 3 more times. Salem completed his hat-trick in style when his smart finish flew beyond the despairing Noetzel before, in the 83rd minute, substitute Eyad Abugharqud bagged his 3rd international strike following a goal-mouth scramble. The rout was completed in the 1st minute of injury time when Attieh ghosted past Nicolas Swaim before coolly rolling the ball home. 

The Blue Ayuyu’s conclude their maiden Challenge Cup campaign on Wednesday when they meet 2nd-placed Bangladesh who will be aiming to score as many as possible in the quest to catch leaders Palestine. Kick-off is at 14:00 (08:15 UK) and updates will be provided via our Twitter service. 

Match information – 

Score: Northern Mariana Islands 0 – 9 Palestine

Goals: Khaled Salem 7’, 76’, 82’ Abdelhamid Abuhabib 21’ (pen.), 27’ Alaa’ Attieh 23’, 90 (+1) Haytham Theeb 67’ Eyad Abugharqud 83’

Northern Mariana Islands XI: Noetzel; Dunn, Knecht, Swaim, Westphal [Zapanta 85’], Jeon; McKagen [Yobech 56’], Barry, Adachi [Tawanpiy 36’], Loken; Miller.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Challenge Cup baptism of fire for Northern Mariana Islands

The Northern Mariana Islands were outclassed on their full Asian Football Confederation debut as they were on the wrong end of a 6-0 thumping from hosts Nepal in their opening Challenge Cup group D qualifier. Bharat Khawas scored a hat-trick with Santosh Sahukhala, Raju Tamang and Sandip Rai adding further goals.

Outpaced...Lucas Knecht (no. 4) can't catch the Nepali striker
The non-FIFA side got off to the worst possible start when, after just 4 minutes, Nepal Army striker Bharat Khawas fired beyond Johann Noetzel to send the packed Dasharath Stadium into raptures. The hosts continued to press and 5 minutes later Santosh Sahukhala saw his goal-bound effort well blocked by Lucas Knecht. The strike pair were causing the Northern Mariana defence a host of problems and in the 14th minute Khawas released a quick pass to Sahukhala but he shot straight into the hands of Noetzel. 3 minutes later Saga Thapa headed narrowly over from a corner-kick before, in the 24th minute, Jangdip Rai struck the bar from another corner with Noetzel scooping up Rohit Chand’s rebound. The pressure paid off on the half-hour when Jagjeet Shrestha swung a cross into the 6-yard box and Sahukhala stooped to head the ball home for 2-0. In the 41st minute the rampant hosts added a 3rd goal when Khawas eluded Dan Westphal in the box to score his 2nd of the game and make it 3-0 at the break.

Helpless...captain Miller (no.7) tries to block a cross
Bhola Silwal wasted a good opening 4 minutes after half-time and in the 51st minute Khawas went even closer with the crossbar denying him a hat-trick. Noetzel made a good save to deny Shrestha moments later but when the Friends Club midfielder was upended in the box by William Dunn with 60 minutes played Raju Tamang confidently dispatched the resulting penalty to make it 4. In the 68th minute defender Sandip Rai managed to get forward and add the 5th goal, sweeping the ball home from close range. Khawas finally secured his hat-trick just 4 minutes after Rai's goal as he turned Sahukhala's pass beyond the helpless Noetzel. In the 80th minute substitute Amar Dongol came close to a 7th goal but he headed Biraj Maharjan's fine cross just over. The Northern Mariana Islands failed to register a chance as they were completely outplayed in Kathmandu, although a 6-0 loss represents a better scoreline than many had anticipated.

The non-FIFA side face an equally difficult task on Monday when they meet Nepal’s likely challengers for the top spot, Palestine. Kick-off is at 14:00 (08:15 UK) and we’ll provide live updates via our Twitter service @NonFIFAfootball.

Match information – 

Score: Nepal 6 – 0 Northern Mariana Islands

Goals: Bharat Khawas 4’, 41’, 72' Santosh Sahukhala 30’ Raju Tamang 60’ (pen.) Sandip Rai 68'

Northern Mariana Islands XI: Noetzel; Dunn, Knecht, Swaim, Westphal [Zapanta 79']; Jeon, McKagen [Yobech 46'], Barry, Adachi [Joyner 69'], Loken; Miller.