The second Cup of Nations was played in June of 2010. Established by Pravus Ingruo, the tournament was devised as the CNRP equivalent of the annual Transvaal World Cup which is a tournament dedicated to in-game nations.
|Cup of Nations|
|Cup of Nations I||May-Jun 2010||Denmark||Carthage||0-0 (3-0 PK)|
|Cup of Nations II||Jun 2010||Republic of York||Athenian Federation||2-1|
Team Draw & Tournament Preview
The atmosphere inside of the Syracuse War Memorial is festive and colorful with representatives from countries all over the world packing inside to catch the selection show for the second Cup of Nations. MediaCorp is once again providing a free feed all over the world so that people of every nationality can tune in to see where their home side will be playing and who they will be playing against. Suddenly, the interior of the War Memorial goes dark as video screens begin playing a montage of the last Cup's highlights set to the music. After the video finished and the crowd was worked up into a frenzy, another light show began, this time featuring Brett Carlson walking casually onto the stage, a large smile on his face as the table with the teams was wheeled out behind him to the MediaCorp International Sports theme song. Smiling as he takes the microphone, Carlson turns to the camera.
"Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the second Cup of Nations selection show. Whether you are watching from right here in York or across the globe, I welcome you to what should be a very fun filled and exciting evening to kick off a wonderful football tournament." Carlson breaks for applause as he looks down at his cards. "Right, so, as I said, this is the selection show for the Cup of Nations, where one game changes everything..." he gets a disgusted look on his face as he starts flipping through the cards, "Contrived !@#$%^&*... more contrived !@#$%^&*... your mother looks like a hamster and yes, I ate your chocolate squirrel. Always got to toss in something to keep me on my toes. Well, without further adieu, or bad slogans, let's head on over the table to find which four teams are going to make up Group A. Gentlemen, roll those balls."
"The first team in Group A, and the first selected for the second Cup of Nations is... China. The second team selected is... the Republic of Labrador. The third team selected is... the United States of America." A murmur moves through the gathered crowd at the Syracuse War Memorial and has to be quieted down before the selection process can continue. "And the final team in Group A is... the Republic of Tahoe." Another murmur washes through the crowd as the four teams are placed up on the big board and the camera swings back to Carlson.
"Lots of interesting back stories in this group, folks. Two complete newcomers to the game in China and the Republic of Labrador, and then two continental rivals that simply downright dislike each other in the United States and the Republic of Tahoe. Neither team has been without controversy, with the criticism on the United States focusing mostly on how it was formed and it's recent foreign policy endeavors while Tahoe's has been twofold. First, they rise from the ashes of the old Republic of Tahoe, and other governments, such as Transvaal and Amerikanisches Reich, don't recognize their new government as legitimate, instead choosing to recognize the "loyalist" government in exile in Transvaal. Transvaal has already said they will forfeit any games they play against Tahoe out of protest, so here's hoping the two teams never meet. The other source of controversy comes from Tahoe's team. Last tournament they played for Carthage, finishing second. After the political turmoil that went on in the country, they defected as a team, were bought by a wealthy businessman, and moved to Tahoe. None are Tahoe citizens, raising the question "should they be aloud to play for Tahoe?" Interesting questions to be sure, and lots of interesting back stories should make this group a real cracker to watch. Obviously Tahoe and the United States are the early favorites to make it out of the group, but I wouldn't immediately count out China or Labrador. With only three games, even a draw against one of the higher ranked teams greatly bolsters their chances of making the knockout round. The average rank for this group is 19." The camera swings back over to the table for the announcement of Group B.
"The first team in Group B is... Amerikanisches Reich. The second team are the Articuno Islands. The third team is the Empire of France. And the final team in Group B is... the Kingdom of Cochin." The camera moves back over to Carlson who is busy scribbling down some notes.
"Tough draw here for the two newcomers, the A.R. and Articuno. Both France and Cochin are experienced squads from the last Cup of Nations and are obvious early favorites to take the top two spots in this group. Still, as France will tell you, you can never count any team out. Last tournament France was the Cinderella story, fighting their way out of the "Group of Death" for a spot in the knockout round. An exceptionally impressive performance by a team no one expected anything of. It will be interesting to see how they follow that up this tournament. Cochin is a extremely scrappy squad that just missed the knockout round last tournament... look for them to be hungry to make it this year. Despite the two newcomers, the average world ranking for this group is 16.5."
"The first team selected for Group C is... the Imperium of Canada. The second team selected is... the Republic of Vietnam. The third team for Group C is... the Athenian Federation. And the final team for Group C is... United Isocoles." A few boos went up from the crowd, along with two signs reading the names of Novak supporters killed after their team's victory over Isocoles during the last tournament.
"Ah, another interesting group with interesting story lines. Shouldn't be too much drama here, I'm afraid. The Athenians should make the knockout round after a disappointing run in the "Group of Death" last tournament. The road seems much easier this time, as they will have to deal with a very weak Canadian side, though the Vietnamese could give them some trouble. It is nice to see the Canadians back and competing so soon after that devastating nuclear attack on their country. While no one expects them to do anything, simply being here must be a morale boost for their people. The boos you heard were from a group of protesters who wanted United Isocoles banned from this tournament for a while after their supporters attacked and killed some Novak supporters after a match last tournament. MediaCorp officials have spoken to team officials and organizers, letting them know that any further acts of violence will result in their national team being banned. Extra security will also be present at all United Isocoles matches. The darkhorse in this group is the Republic of Vietnam, not much is known about them, though they have performed well in their warm-up and friendly matches. If either of the two newcomers make a run at the second knockout round spot, expect it to be this team. Average world rank for this group: 16.75."
"The first team in Group D is... Denmark." Cheers from Denmark supporters at the selection show and light applause for the defending champions drifted through the room. "The second team is... the Greater Japanese Empire. The third team in Group D is... Rebel Army. And the final team in Group D is... the Slavic Federation."
"Ah, so we find out where our defending champions will be playing and who they will be playing against. I'm sure you all remember what happened last year. Three games in, the Danes had yet to score a goal and accusations of match fixing were flying about. Their fourth game, they draw, and then win the last two, squeaking their way into the knockout round and go on and end up winning the whole thing. Simply exceptional on their part. I've heard rumors of a movie deal in the works about that team, we'll see if anything comes to fruition. They won't have the chance to do the same thing again this tournament though as the format has changed. Look for them to get out of the blocks much faster this time. Two newcomers in this group as well in the Greater Japanese Empire and Rebel Army. Rebel Army, drawing players from all of the world as its citizens, looks to have a distinct advantage over Japan here even though they both have the same level of experience. The Slavic Federation had a similar disappointing run to the Athenians as they were also in the "Group of Death". They are looking to avenge that this tournament and are hoping to make the knockout stage. Expect them and the Danes to make it back, but watch out for Rebel Army. They are one of the highest ranked teams with no international experience, and there is good reason as to why. Average world rank for this group: 15.75."
"The first team in Group E is... Louisiana. The second team is... the Sicilian League. The third team is... Vereinigte Deutsche Länder. And the fourth team in Group E is... the Isara Alliance."
"So nice to see the Sicilians in the tournament, playing on an international level for the first time at a game they so enjoy locally. They will certainly be interesting to watch throughout the tournament but they will have to overcome both Louisiana and the Isara Alliance if they want to make it to the next round. While this group doesn't have any huge names like Transvaal, Novak, or Denmark, they are all very tightly packed in terms of rank, only thirteen spots separating the highest rank, the VDL, from the lowest, Isara. Look for upsets abound in this group and don't bet on the VDL and Louisiana making it through simply because they are ranked higher. One of the two of them, or both, will fail to make it. I guarantee it. Average world rank for this group: 15.25."
"The first team in Group F is... the Republic of York." A massive cheer erupted in the room as the home side was announced. Banners and flags featuring the Crimson Lion flew over the heads over the spectators, the observers who had been so dignified a second ago now finding themselves in the middle of an impromptu football fan celebration. After a minute, it died down as the fans waited anxiously to hear who their beloved Crimson Lions would be facing. "The second team in Group F is... the Queendom of Australia. The third team in Group F is... the Slavorussian Empire. And the final team in Group F is... the Koryo Confederation."
"Well, now we finally know where the home side is going to play and who they will be facing. A pretty favorable draw for the Crimson Lions if you ask me. Neither Slavorussia nor Koryo have international experience and the Queendom finished dead last in the previous tournament. York fans shouldn't be too worried, though anything can happen in a short tournament like this, so the team had better approach its first game with a sense of urgency. If this team fails to make the knockout round, then this tournament will be considered an unmitigated disaster. The Queendom will face a tough challenge from the Koryo Confederacy, ranked only three slots behind them in the world. Slavorussia... well, I'm sure they will be happy for the international experience as they bow out after the group stage. Average world rank for this group: 17.75."
The first team in Group G is... the Republic of Cascadia. The second team in Group G is... the Funky Republic of Puerto Rico. The third team in Group G is... Arctica. And the final team in Group G is... the Imperial Hudson Reich." A sharp gasp washed over the crowd as the group was finished and the camera moved back over to Carlson.
"Wow folks... I am truly speechless. This has to simply be the softest group I have ever seen in international competition anywhere in my entire life. I mean, just look at this group. All newcomers, and the early odds on "favorite", if you could even call them that, is Arctica ranked 19th in the world. The average world rank for this group is 26.25. I mean, how many higher ranked teams would simply be salivating at the though of being in this group. Transvaal would kill this group like a fat guy kills tacos. We now know that two teams ranked very low will be making the final knockout round... the only question is who. This group is a complete toss-up. Only Puerto Rico looks really outmatched against these teams. Wow... all these teams must be breathing a major sigh of relief now."
"The first team for the final group, Group H, is... the Hakaarian Empire. The second team is... the Minilla Islands. The third team is... Transvaal. And the final team selected for the second Cup of Nations is Marscurian Pakistan."
"And there's the tournament favorites: Transvaal. After a disappointing penalty kicks loss to eventual champion Denmark in the quarterfinals last year, the team is back, slightly retooled, and looking for revenge. I would not want to be a team that got into their way... not this tournament. The Minilla Islands might give them a little bit of trouble in their group, but look for those two strong sides to advance easily over the likes of Marscurian Pakistan, ranked 23rd, and the Hakaarian Empire, ranked 33rd. Average world rank for this group, 23. And that concludes our selection show for the second Cup of Nations. Stay tuned after this commercial break for more in depth coverage and analysis of the upcoming tournament. I'm Brett Carlson, and I'll see you on the pitch."
Preliminary Round Results
June 16, 2010
- Republic of Tahoe v. China 2-1
In the first game of the tournament, the Republic of Tahoe faced newcomer China. For a little while, it looked as if we would have our first major upset of the tournament as a Chinese striker put his team up 1-0 in the 55th minute after a scoreless first half of play, beating Goslan Bourkia with a laser from the penalty area. The Tahoe team, showing their experience from the previous Cup of Nations, rallied back, tightening their defense and going on the counter-attack. Bouaziz Hanouf headed in an excellent cross from Alae al Hasnaoui in the 63rd minute and then in stoppage time Gersom Salem put on an absolute show with what may be the play of the tournament in the very first game. With the score level, Tahoe got a corner kick. The ball was placed near the top of the penalty area, where Salem launched himself into a bicycle kick, sending the ball streaking into the upper 90 on the left side of the net in a practically unsavable shot. Time ran out just minutes after that, leaving Tahoe to walk away with a crucial three points from their opening game.
- United States of America v. Republic of Labrador 0-2
In the second game of the tournament, the first major upset of the tournament did occur. The Republic of Labrador, ranked 29th in the world, came in and dominated the United States of America, ranked 14th. Labrador keeper Thomas Howard dealt with a furious USA onslaught early in the match, and his performance inspired the rest of his team. Late in the first half, a sustained Labrador attack finally broke through the USA defense. Norman Keller hit Wesley Gates as he streaked into the penalty area having shaken his marker, and Gates blasted the ball with ease past Brad Garthwaite. While there were worries that halftime would allow the United States to regroup, the team from Canada put an end to any of those thoughts as they scored just minutes into the second half as Andrew Owings curled a freekick from 27meters just inside the right post for a 2-0 lead. After that goal, Labrador simply put the clamps on, stifling any USA attack for the rest of the game to get their three points.
- Kingdom of Cochin v. Amerikanisches Reich 2-0
This game pitted the veteran Kingdom of Cochin team against newcomers Amerikanisches Reich. The AR team was nervous from the beginning, and it showed when they allowed Vipin Das to get a breakaway in only the 3rd minute off an excellent pass from Clifford Miranda. Das streaked in on goal and pounded the ball past AR keeper David Bakos. It was only a few more minutes before Anthony Pereira fed Rithu KS in the penalty area where he was all alone, having slipped his marker. KS put a fancy fake on Bakos before tapping the ball into the far corner of the net for an easy goal. The Cochin side seemed to back off after that, simply shutting down every attempt by the AR side to get any offense going while simply controlling play. Experience won out in this game, and hopefully the Reich can get the ship righted before their next game.
- Empire of France v. Articuno Islands 1-0
Last year’s Cinderella story faced off against another newcomer, the Articuno Islands. The Islands actually put up a bit of a fight in this game, scaring the number eight team in the world as two consecutive chances in the first half, one but Zhang Lu and the other by Jackie Chan, rang off the post, saving the French side from an early 1-0 deficit. The French slowly started to regain control of the game, sustaining a long attack in the Articuno zone before Lionel Aubry finally broke through with a long distance shot that simply beat the keeper for a 1-0 French lead. A late Articuno chance ricocheted off the crossbar, but a shot was never able to find the back of the net for the newcomers and they fell 1-0 after a valiant effort.
- United Isocoles v. Imperium of Canada 3-0
This wasn’t expected to be a difficult game for United Isocoles, facing the worst team in the world, and it wasn’t. A fast start in the 4th minute put UI ahead as Makin Labon put a number of fancy moves on the Canadian defense before firing a laser of a pass to Adal Ackmel who headed the ball past the Imperium’s keeper. A goal from Labon himself followed in the 25th minute off a breakaway chance, and Omar Ramzi got into the mix in the 75th minute, maneuvering around three Canadian players before firing a shot into the upper corner of the net. One can only hope that the Imperium performs better in their next game against the Republic of Vietnam.
- Athenian Federation v. Republic of Vietnam 0-1
In another Match Day 1 upset, though this one appreciably more minor than the USA’s loss, the Republic of Vietnam upset a veteran Athenian Federation squad 1-0. The game’s lone goal came after a turnover by the Athenians in the Vietnam zone that was followed by a three on none breakaway by the Vietnamese attack. Kostas Chalkias never really had a chance for the Athenians as Pham Van Quyen, Nguyen Hong Son, and Le Cong Vinh expertly passed the ball between them, a final pass leaving Quyen with a wide open net to shoot at which he took full advantage of. The Athenians never really recovered, nor did they ever mount a substantial attack after that goal, and Vietnam walked away with a 1-0 win.
- Slavic Federation v. Denmark 0-1
Denmark opened its title defense against the Slavic Federation, a team wrought with disappointment after their failure to make the knockout stage last year. This was a very exciting, evenly played match that saw a number of good chances on both sides be stopped by superb goalkeeping. In the 43rd minute, the Denmark side picked up a corner, and Joen Del Tomasson curled the corner into the back of the net all by himself. Though the Slavs put up a concerted counterattack effort in the second half, they never really could figure out the Danish defense and fell 1-0 to the defending champs.
- Rebel Army v. Greater Japanese Empire 2-1
No one really knew what to expect in this game between two newcomers to the international stage, though oddsmakers favored Rebel Army before the match simply because of their far-reaching empire and the talent they could draw from there. Nir Golan and Iván Domínguez both scored for RA, which prompted an expected “It’s a GOAL for GOLAN” from play-by-play man Michael Patterson. The Greater Japanese Empire struck back in the 58th minute, however, as Yuke Abi fed Keiji Tamada on a nice cross for a sliding goal. The Japanese side never threatened again, however, as the Rebel Army team tightened their defense, and won their first international game 2-1.
- Isara Alliance v. Louisiana 2-1
In another game between a newcomer and a veteran side, the newcomer once again prevailed. Louisiana scored first when Gregg Harriem fed Rich Byrd in the 38th with an excellent low cross which Byrd turned on and fired into the back of the net before Georgi Konev had a chance to react. The second half seemed like it was going to be all Louisiana as a sustained attack resulted in a corner for the Pelicans. Off the corner kick, Konev punched the ball away all the way out to Niels Klein who was able to get past his Louisianan marker and streak in on goal unmolested where he fired his shot past Paul Doucet. A mistake by the Louisiana defense and Doucet allowed Isara’s second goal late in the second half. Isara midfielder Vladimir Ivanov was setting up for a corner and saw there was confusion and miscommunication going on between Doucet and his team, which left Radi Jaeger unmarked in the penalty area. A low powerful pass reached Jaeger, who turned without molestation and put the ball past Doucet to give Isara the lead. Louisiana wasn’t able to get the ball past Konev for the rest of the game and the Isara Alliance walked away with a 2-1 upset victory.
- Vereinigte Deutsche Länder v. Sicilian League 1-0
In a hotly anticipated game, the German side met the Italian side for this year’s Cup. Though it was the Italian’s first time on the world stage, they hung with a powerful German side, beating the Germans in terms of time of possession and shots on goal in the first half. However, as the second half wore on, the Germans’ superior skill and conditioning started wearing down the Sicilian side and Toni Kroos capitalized on a misstep by the Sicilian defense in the 67th minute, finding Miroslav Klose behind them for a goal. The goal seemed to stun the Sicilians who never again mounted a serious threat against the vaunted German defense, and lost 1-0.
- Koryo Confederation v. Republic of York 0-2
The home side was given a hero’s welcome before their game, and the faithful packed the stadium, waving black and crimson flags throughout the crowd. The players were all smiles before their home fans, and it showed in their play on the field. They controlled the game from start to finish, and their much-acclaimed scoring attack lived up to the hype. Zachary McCarthy got things started in the 10th minute, stealing the ball from a Koryo defender and taking it all the way himself, catching the Koryo defense moving too far forward in attack. The Koryo side was not able to catch his blazing speed, and McCarthy chipped the ball over a charging keeper for an early 1-0 lead. David Axelrod showed his touch on the ball after a pass from Benjamin Avery. Axelrod held the ball for a half second, allowing Chip Watson to plow through the zone, drawing defenders and giving Axelrod the small window he needed to slip the ball inside the left post. York keeper Thomas Archer didn’t see much action at all in the game, only needing to stop a single shot on goal for his clean sheet as York won 2-0.
- Slavorussian Empire v. Queendom of Australia 0-2
Following a disappointing run in last year’s Cup of Nations, the Queendom of Australia looked to come out firing against the Slavorussian Empire, looking to take out the frustration of the last Cup on these newcomers. Australia never even gave the Slavorussians a chance to get started in their first international match, scoring two goals before the 9th minute courtesy of Jai Newson and Jett Perry. The Slavorussians were visibly stunned, and only luck would prevent the game from being 4-0 before the half as Australia failed to capitalize on two excellent chances. Slavorussia seemed to regroup at halftime, playing the Aussies much more evenly in the second half, but never really managing any serious threats on goal. Australia walked away with a crucial three points, attempting to make the knockout stage after their monumental collapse last Cup.
- Imperial Hudson Reich v. Republic of Cascadia 2-1
The first game in the group everyone wanted to watch but no one really wanted to watch. Four teams, none ranked above 19 in the world, and none with any international experience. The two middle teams in the group met first, with Cascadia ranked 26th and the Reich ranked 28th. Despite their obvious lack of finesse possessed by the top flight international teams, the game was entertaining to watch as the Reich struck first, Alan Bennard feeding Nels Nelson for the game’s first goal in the 26th minute. Cascadia tied things up just before the half as Scott Johnson and Emmett Demirelli put together a pretty give and go to beat the Hudson defense and score. The game was tied deep into the second half until Frederick Star lived up to his name and launched a powerful right footed shot past the Cascadia keeper and into the back of the net. The Reich held on from there, winning their first international match by a score of 2-1.
- Arctica v. Funky Republic of Puerto Rico 2-0
Arctica was favored to win this group based solely on their world rank, but even the oddsmakers knew that everything about this group was basically a toss up, which could be seen as the odds for Arctica winning were only 4-to-1. However, the Arctica side looked to prove everyone wrong as they went out and simply dominated the Funky Republic of Puerto Rico (FRPR) 2-0. The Lemurs got goals from John Paul in the 18th and Guillaume Hoarau in the 35th. The FRPR never really got things going for themselves in their first international match, and one can only hope they get things together before their next match.
- Marscurian Pakistan v. Hakaarian Empire 0-0
The final group featured two draws that very well could be considered upsets based on the teams. Marscurian Pakistan, heavily favored over the Hakaarian Empire, managed only a 0-0 draw in the face of a stout Hakaarian defense and the excellent play of Rich Bales in net. The Pakistanis were visibly frustrated by the “bend but don’t break” strategy employed by the inexperienced side throughout the game, and there were numerous complaints to officials about fouls not being called. On the other side, the Hakaarians seemed genuinely happy to grab a point from a much more experienced side.
- Transvaal v. Minilla Islands 1-1
In the second upset in the group, a late goal gave the Minilla Islands a draw and allowed them to steal a point away from top-ranked Transvaal. Transvaal controlled the game early through physical play and broke through in the 40th minute when Stein van Buyten found his Springbok teammate Detlef Botha for a pretty goal to give the number one team in the world a 1-0 lead. The Minilla Islands side broke out of its defensive shell after the half though, moving much more aggressively against the Transvaal defense. A mistake by Carlton Drury cost the Springboks as the Minilla strikers seized the ball, rushing past the remaining two Transvaal defenders who were caught flat-footed for a two on none break. Thurston Alderton was still able to get a hand on the shot, but it merely deflected the ball to the other Minilla striker who buried it in the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1. That’s where it ended, Minilla celebrating their one point like it was three, and Transvaal walking off the field, wondering where they went wrong.
June 19, 2010
- United States of America v. Republic of Tahoe 2-2
It was probably one of the most anticipated matches from the moment groups were announced: the United States versus Tahoe, on the pitch. There was talk before the game that wars should instead be settled here, it would just make life easier. Extra security was provided at the game to make certain the fans of the two nations would not get testy with each other. No incidents broke out inside the stadium, and the match provided great entertainment for all. Clint Slate of Team USA got the scoring started with a rocket that streaked past Goslan Bourkia, freezing him in place. The United States increased their lead to 2-0 on a turnover by Match Day 1 hero Gersom Salem that led to a breakaway for Edson Buchanan who pushed the ball under a diving Bourkia. The supporters for the USA were going nuts, especially when their team took the lead into the half. Whatever talk the Tahoe players got at the half worked, however, for they scored just two minutes into the second half, as Ibrahim Atik pounded a powerful header past Brad Garthwaite off a cross from Naim Daoudi. Just three minutes later, Salem took a beautiful forwarding pass from Ramzi El Ansri on a breakaway of his own that he chipped over Garthwaite. The United States were back on their heels and Tahoe had all the momentum until a crushing tackle by Samir Yapoi on Jozy Albers led to him getting red carded in the 63rd minute. Tahoe, being forced to play with ten men, never again mounted an attack, subbing in Hafid Souieb for Salem to shore up the defense. They held for the rest of the match, and it ended in a 2-2 draw.
- China v. Republic of Labrador 2-0
China entered needed at least a draw to remain in serious contention for advancing out of Group A, and their play showed it. The Chinese attack got off to a fast start, scoring in the 11th minute off a free kick from thirty meters out. The set piece resulted in a beautiful header that was pounded past the keeper for a goal. The insurance marker didn’t come until the 58th minute, but was the resulted of a sustained attack and possession inside the Labrador zone by the Chinese side. A pair of nifty passes between two Chinese midfielders set the stage for a devastating shot that had enough velocity on it to careen off the Labrador keeper’s hands and into the net. Labrador never really got their attack going in the game, and never threatened China’s two goal lead in their defeat.
- Empire of France v. Kingdom of Cochin 0-1
A very evenly played match between the two teams that seemed destined for a draw before a French mistake in stoppage time of the second half led to a breakaway by Cochin striker Sunil Chetri. The head official nearly blew his whistle to stop the game as the clock had just passed the threshold for the three minutes of added time, but thought better of it, allowing the play to continue. Cherti took the ball down the pitch, rocketing away from his French pursuers for a one-on-one with French keeper Arnaud Rocher. Cherti put a nice shoulder fake on Rocher to his right, to which Rocher overcommitted, allowing Cherti an almost clear shot at the left side of the net, where he buried the ball. The match was stopped just after the next kickoff and Cochin walked away with a thrilling 1-0 victory.
- Amerikanisches Reich v. Articuno Islands 0-1
The North American team fought well in this game, registering a number of chances, but an early defensive lapse cost them the game. In the 13th minute, midfielder Gao Lin sliced through the Amerikansches Reich defense and blasted the ball through keeper David Bakos’ legs. Even though the North American side controlled the ball, and the tempo, for the rest of the match, they were never able to get any solid chances on goal because of a stout Articuno Islands defense.
- Athenian Federation v. United Isocoles 3-1
This game had extra security due to the fact that it was a United Isocoles game and the fact that the president of United Isocoles was going to be there. While the president was supposed to inspire his home side, it instead seemed to intimidate them and push the Athenian side even harder for victory. The Athenian side scored twice in the first half, in the 24th and 38th minutes, off strikes from Giorgos Karagounis and Erjon Bogdani respectively. The halftime pep talk didn’t seem to help the UI side any, as the Athenian Federation scored in the 49th minute as well off a freekick by Vangelis Moras. United Isocoles finally scored in the 83rd minute, off a corner kick that was headed in, but at that point it didn’t matter. The Athenian side walked off in celebration, knowing they had thoroughly dominated the Isocoles side.
- Imperium of Canada v. Republic of Vietnam 0-2
The Republic of Vietnam easily handled its opponent in its second game in the Imperium of Canada, controlling play for most of the first half before scoring just before the break off a nice crossing pass to Su Per Fly in the penalty area in the 44th minute. Immediately after the break, Vietnam scored again, this time Pham Van Long hitting the mark from just outside the penalty area on a dagger of a shot. The Imperium once again never got things rolling, falling 2-0.
- Rebel Army v. Slavic Federation 1-2
An important match for both teams if they wanted to advance. Rebel Army struck first in the 37th minute, Ali Al Nawateer finding his range on a long shot from about 30 meters that just curled inside the right post. The Slavic Federation nailed a nice shot right before the halftime whistle, however, as Anton Wolodymyr chipped the ball over a charging Rebel Army keeper to level the score at the break. Both teams played evenly throughout the second half until the Slavic Federation broke through late, as Cosmin Theodor and Zhenya Vova linked up on an exceptional give and go weave through the Rebel Army defense that resulted in Vova ramming the ball past the keeper for the game winner.
- Denmark v. Greater Japanese Empire 3-1
In a game nearly identical to the Athenian Federation/United Isocoles affair, Denmark simply dominated the Greater Japanese Empire in all facets of the match. Denmark scored early and often, blasting home goals in the 5th, 19th, and 22nd minutes, all long range shots from outside the box that caught the GJE keeper out of position. The markers were scored by Jensen Mølby, Erico Edman, and Zeth Ibrahimović respectively. After that the defending champs took their foot off the gas, allowing the GJE to control the play through much of the second half. Lazy and sloppy play by the Danish defense, who were playing like, well, danishes, is what allowed the GJE goal in the 76th minute. It had no effect on the outcome however, as the Danes walked away with a 3-1 victory.
- Vereinigte Deutsche Länder v. Isara Alliance 1-1
An important match for these two group leaders was played very evenly throughout, with neither team scoring in the first half and both scoring in the second. Nikoloz Bessarionobis scored for the Darkstars, crashing down a powerful header in the 69th minute past Manuel Jansen. Mesut Özil answered back just five minutes later off a corner kick when he was left unmarked in the penalty area by the Isaran defense, allowing him to control the ball and fire a low shot across the net that beat keeper Georgi Konev. Both Konev and Jansen made superb saves near the end of the match, keeping the score level as both teams walked away with a point.
- Louisiana v. Sicilian League 0-2
The nightmare tournament continued for Louisiana, this time getting shut out by the Sicilian League 2-0. Keeper Paul Doucet was pulled after allowing two goals on the first two shots he faced, which put the Pelicans at an early 2-0 deficit only 26 minutes in. He was replaced by Vincent Velazquez. Though Velazquez made a number of stellar saves through the rest of the game, Louisiana’s offense never got going and the score remained the way it was at the early going, with the Sicilians winning 2-0.
- Slavorussian Empire v. Koryo Confederation 0-1
The Koryo Confederation got three key points off the Slavorussian Empire on a goal that was controversial at best. Late in the match, a Koryo Confederation midfielder was driving in on net when he crossed into the penalty area. He was closely marked by a Slavorussian defender and the Koryo player tripped and went down to the turf hard. Video replay showed he tripped on his own feet, but the referee for the match gave a yellow card and a penalty kick. The Koryo player slammed home the penalty kick, providing the game’s only goal as they won 1-0.
- Republic of York v. Queendom of Australia 3-1
In what is expected to be the toughest test of the group stage for the York side, they won in convincing and dominating fashion. A goal by Zachary McCarthy got things started off in just the 7th minute, and then defenders Clark Miner and Greg Tanner got into the mix as well, both firing long range shots that beat the Australian keeper. It was 3-0 at the half, when York pulled back into its defensive shell, pulling out Avery and Watson and inserting Veers and Babcock. A turnover by Veers led to the breakaway that resulted in Australia’s only marker, coming in the 73rd minute. Still, the result was convincing enough for the fans, now hoping for a clean sweep in the group stage and 9 points.
- Arctica v. Imperial Hudson Reich 0-1
The most wide open group just got more open. With the Imperial Hudson Reich beating the favored Arctica, they now sit atop the group with six points, Arctica and Cascadia behind them with three each. The Reich got the game’s lone marker in the 50th minute off a beautiful series of passes that started all the way back with their defense. Always moving forward, the Reich never wavered, and it only seemed appropriate that a striker moving in close drew the Arctica keeper away from his post before passing it to his teammate for a clean shot at an open net. He capitalized, and the Reich held on to win 1-0.
- Republic of Cascadia v. Funky Republic of Puerto Rico 2-1
Cascadia got a much needed win over the Funky Republic of Puerto Rico in their match, keeping themselves in contention to advance to the knockout round. Puerto Rico scored first, getting an early corner and then stuffing it home off some rough and tumble play in the box in just the 3rd minute. Cascadia responded however, scoring in the 10th and 12th minutes to effectively kill any momentum that the FRPR had. For all the scoring that took place in just the first 12 minutes of the game, none took place after as Cascadia held on for their much-needed 3 points.
- Transvaal v. Marscurian Pakistan 2-0
After a shocking draw in the opening match, the number one team in the world came out with something to prove, and they certainly did. Transvaal dominated Marscurian Pakistan up and down the pitch all game, almost making it look effortless at times as they stole the ball and passed at will. Many times it even seemed as if they were toying with Pakistan. The Springboks were all business though when they notched their two goals, coming in the 34th and 41st minutes. Stien van Buyten and Boyke Chan Carl notched the markers for the Springboks, respectively. Transvaal’s defense took it from there in the second half as their physical play shut down any chance Marscurian Pakistan had at an offensive comeback.
- Hakaarian Empire v. Minilla Islands 0-0
A win for either team would have practically sealed their admittance into the knockout round, but the draw leaves an all-important Match Day 3 looming. Neither side’s offense ever really looked comfortable out on the pitch, though the Minilla Islands keeper was forced to make one amazing save that kept his team in it. The Empire got a quick two on none break that forced the Minilla keeper to come bravely out of net to challenge the player with the ball. He came out faster than expected and surprised the Hakaarian striker, who was not able to pass the ball in time and the Minilla Islands keeper deflected it away to clear any danger.
June 20, 2010
- Republic of Tahoe v. Republic of Labrador 1-0
A win over the Republic of Labrador clinched first place for the Republic of Tahoe, setting them up with the second place finisher of Group E. Knowing either a win or draw would put them through, the Tahoe side played a very conservative match, looking more to not make a mistake to give Labrador a chance rather than to put them away. However, a poor cross-pitch pass midway through the second half led to an Abdelkabir Puilds breakaway that ended with the ball in the back of the net. Labrador looked supremely deflated after that goal, and fell 1-0.
- China v. United States of America 1-3
The only way the United States could advance to the knockout stage was with a win and Labrador loss. With both games being played simultaneously, the US squad decided to take matters into their own hands. From the opening whistle it was clear they wanted the next round more than China did. Jozy Albers and Clint Slate got things started off the US very quickly as they scored in the 8th and 14th minutes, respectively. China drew closer just before the half on a beautiful long-range strike. However, the US came out dominating in the second half, and finally notched an insurance marker for themselves in the 64th minute off a Michael Cazamias header. That score held up, and the United States advanced with a 3-1 win.
The Republic of Tahoe advances with 7 points, the United States advances with 4 points. China and the Republic of Labrador are eliminated, each with 3 points.
- Kingdom of Cochin v. Articuno Islands 1-0
These two teams entered the match with entirely different mindsets. For Cochin, a win or draw would place them into the knockout rounds. For the Articuno Islands, they needed a win and help from France to advance. The match was exceptionally well played by both sides. Articuno almost took a lead in the 3rd minute when a shot clanged off the crossbar, something that seemed to catch the Cochin side off-guard. The match was much more even after that, with halftime seeming to break Articuno momentum. Near the start of the second half, Nandgopal M hit Mehrajuddin Wadoo with a beautiful forwarding pass and Wadoo slammed the ball into the back of the net in the 62nd minute. Cochin played defensively for the rest of the match, never again allowing Articuno a chance.
- Amerikanisches Reich v. Empire of France 0-4
There were two ways for France to get into the knockout round if they won: if Cochin won, or if Cochin lost and they scored more goals than Articuno Islands. From the opening whistle, it seemed France was intent on making sure they were getting into the next stage regardless. By halftime, it was already 3-0 for the French, with markers from Joseph-Aurelien Vaux, Firmin Blanchard, and Louis-Gildas Vaillant in the 15th, 21st, and 24th minutes, respectively. Blanchard marked his second goal of the game in the 71st minute, ensuring a French blowout win 4-0.
The Kingdom of Cochin advances with 9 points, the Empire of France advances with 6 points. The Articuno Islands and Amerikansches Reich are eliminated with 3 points and 0 points respectively.
- United Isocoles v. Republic of Vietnam 0-1
Security was extra tight at the match, organizers knowing that United Isocoles could be eliminated, and not taking any chances with their fans. Riot police were present for the entire game, standing between the Isocoles and Vietnamese sections of fans. On the pitch, it was obvious who the better team was. The Republic of Vietnam dominated the United Isocoles side up and down the pitch, with numerous chances on net that were only kept out due to the spectacular play of Johnson Abrah. Still, the onslaught continued even after halftime and in the 55th minute, Vietnam finally broke through. After a long sustained attack that had already seen one shot ricochet off the crossbar and back into play, Nguyen Hong Son controlled the ball, made a nifty move around two United Isocoles defenders, and then launched an unsaveable shot into the far corner, far out of Abrah’s reach. Despite their desperation, United Isocoles was never able to get a concerted attack going, still looking out of sorts from the thrashing they took the last match day at the hands of the Athenians. The Republic of Vietnam walked off the pitch victorious, 1-0.
- Imperium of Canada v. Athenian Federation 1-2
Still on a bit of a high coming off their 3-1 win over United Isocoles, the Athenians came into the game against the already eliminated Imperium of Canada in high spirits and playing loose. Unfortunately for them, their loose play wasn’t just laid back, but also poor defense as Vince Grella sliced a ball through the Athenian defense and past keeper Kostas Chalkias for an early 1-0 lead in the 18th minute. After that, however, the Athenians tightened their defense and their play, showing the sort of form they used to trash Isocoles as they scored two goals in quick succession before the half. Angelos Charisteas and Giorgos Karagounis scored in the 41st and 44th minutes, respectively, to give the Athenians a 2-1 halftime lead. Karagounis thought he had another off a header following a freekick in the 79th minute, but the goal was disallowed due to an offsides call. Still, Karagounis’ goal at the end of the first half proved to be the winner as the Athenian Federation beat the Imperium of Canada, 2-1.
The Republic of Vietnam advances with 9 points, the Athenian Federation advances with 6 points. United Isocoles and the Imperium of Canada are eliminated with 3 points and 0 points, respectively.
- Slavic Federation v. Greater Japanese Empire 1-0
This match featured a team fighting for its tournament life versus a team that was already out. The Slavic Federation knew it held its best chance to advance with a win by two goals or more. It seemed like the Greater Japanese Empire knew this as well, and set out to play spoiler. A stiff Japanese defense frustrated the Slavs throughout the match, and numerous opportunities that looked promising were not capitalized on. Finally Okhropir Imeda forced the ball into the back of the net in the 86th minute. The Slavs seemed to gain new life, but there simply wasn’t enough time left on the clock. The Slavic Federation won 1-0, but was left waiting for the Rebel Army/Denmark result, hoping the defending champs could hold off the surprisingly strong new side.
- Denmark v. Rebel Army 0-1
For most of the match, it seemed as if Rebel Army was simply trying to play for a respectable draw. Their defense and midfield were very physical and stout in the first half, pushing around and out-hustling the more experienced Danes but their offense never got into the attack. That all changed on the opening whistle of the second half. In what could only be described as an all-out blitzkrieg, double down, all in, take it or leave it try to score a goal, the Rebel Army side pushed their way through the Danish midfield and defense, before a series of passes from Awad Hijah to Ali Al Nawateer to Iván Domínguez left Danish keeper Peder Schmeichel standing in disbelief and his defense yelling at each other for a lapse while Domínguez celebrated the goal that put Rebel Army ahead with his teammates. Rebel Army’s stout defense returned after that, never really allowing the Danes anything but very long-range shots that were handled easily by Essam Fathallah. Rebel Army won the match in a shocker, 1-0.
Denmark advances with 6 points and a goal difference of +2. Rebel Army advances with 6 points, a goal difference of +1 and 4 goals for. The Slavic Federation is eliminated with 6 points, a goal difference of +1 and 3 goals for. The Greater Japanese Empire is eliminated with 0 points.
- Isara Alliance v. Sicilian League 1-0
Both teams entered this match with a “win and you’re in” mindset, and that translated to some spectacular play on the pitch. Not only was the match very evenly contested, but it was also a very clean game, with very few fouls and no cards being handed out. The two main tenants of this match were excellent passing and solid defense, which countered each other, allowing neither team a shot on net in the first half. In the second half, all it took was one small mistake, one little slip out of position by Sicilian defender Franco Dematto to allow Herman Gruenwald to move past him and fire a shot to the near-side post that caught Sasha Ibrahamov out of position for the game’s only goal.
- Louisiana v. Vereinigte Deutsche Länder 1-1
Vereinigte Deutsche Länder entered wanting a win but a much maligned Louisiana side, seemingly tired of all the negative press it was getting along with its poor play in the tournament, seemed dedicated to playing spoiler. Harry Pickette struck first for Louisiana in the 31st minute, crushing a ball past German keeper Manuel Jansen off a corner kick. That sent the Germans into a scramble, knowing a loss could doom their chances of the knockout round. A goal in the 88th minute by Stefan Kießling saved a point for Vereinigte Deutsche Länder, and after the match they found out they had, in fact, advanced.
The Isara Alliance advances with 7 points, Vereinigte Deutsche Länder advances with 5 points. The Sicilian League and Louisiana are eliminated with 3 points and 1 point respectively.
- Koryo Confederation v. Queendom of Australia 1-1
With the Republic of York having already advanced and the Slavorussian Empire already been eliminated, this match would determine who would move on from Group F. Australia needed a draw or win to advance, while Koryo could only advance on a win. For a while, it seemed as if they would get just that. A goal in the 39th minute by a Koryo midfielder put his team up 1-0. That lead held until the 90th minute +1 into extra time when Anssi Seppinen popped a shot into the net that had ricocheted off the Koryo keeper’s hands. He was instantly mobbed by his teammates. The match was stopped shortly afterwards, Australia advancing by product of their draw.
- Republic of York v. Slavorussian Empire 3-0
In a match that didn’t matter to either side, the Republic of York chose to rest their starters against the Slavorussian regulars, with only midfielder Otto Kunzleman and defenseman Sean Hutchinson being the only regular starters in the game. It didn’t even seem to make a difference. Danny Wheeler stopped an early flurry of shots by Slavorussia as the reserves worked to get their feet under them and up to game speed early in the match. However, a strong tackle by Hutchinson that earned him a yellow card in the 33rd minute seemed to be the difference. Perry Coxian, flashing hints of brilliance a la Zachary McCarthy, blew through the Slavorussian defense and buried the ball past a diving keeper in the 38th minute to put the home side up 1-0. That’s the way it stayed through the break, but not much longer afterwards. Gregory Warner and Terry Darkhorse both notched goals for the York side, with them coming in the 67th and 84th minutes. Wheeler was never seriously tested in the second half as the team walked away with a 3-0 victory.
The Republic of York advances with 9 points, the Queendom of Australia advance with 4 points and a 0 goal differential. The Koryo Confederation is eliminated with 4 points and a -1 goal differential. The Slavorussian Empire is eliminated with 0 points.
- Imperial Hudson Reich v. Funky Republic of Puerto Rico 0-2
It was a match that held no importance in terms of advancing for either side. The Imperial Hudson Reich had already punched their ticket through, and the Funky Republic had already been eliminated. Still, there is something to be said about playing for national pride, and the FRPR showed why during this match. Michael Caro scored for the second match in a row and Noah Delgado added another as the FRPR took it to the reserves for the Imperial Hudson Reich, out-hustling, out-physicaling, and simply out-plying the opposing side up and down the pitch. While the match had no bearing on seeding for the most part, it was an exceptional first international win for the FRPR.
- Republic of Cascadia v. Arctica 0-1
Arctica entered into the match with a commanding position over the Republic of Cascadia. Cascadia needed to win to advance, while Arctica could advance with a win or a draw. Roberto Elcaman tried to put any doubts to rest early as he drilled a freekick directly into the net in the 11th minute, prompting a scramble by the Republic of Cascadia for the rest of the match. However, Cascadia’s lack of international experience came back to hurt them as, instead of keeping cool and methodically working for their two goals to win the game, they started panicking, trying to do everything by themselves, and made it easy for Arctica’s defense to simply shut them down. With the win, Arctica moved on while Cascadia went home.
Arctica advances with 6 points and a +2 goal differential, the Imperial Hudson Reich advances with 6 points and a 0 goal differential. The Republic of Cascadia and the Funky Republic of Puerto Rico are both eliminated with 3 points apiece.
- Marscurian Pakistan v. Minilla Islands 1-0
Marscurian Pakistan entered this match still mathematically eligible to advance on to the knockout round but needing a lot of help to do so. Still, the best thing they could do for themselves was to win the match, and that is exactly what they did against the Minilla Islands. Moshe Baum scored Pakistan’s first goal of the tournament in the 63rd minute off a diving header. The game up until that point had been marked by sloppy offensive play but solid defense from both sides. The Minilla Islands were never able to get the offense going again, and fell to Marscurian Pakistan 1-0.
- Hakaarian Empire v. Transvaal 0-0
With Transvaal only needing a draw to advance, their defensive prowess was in overdrive for the match as they completely outclassed the Hakaarian Empire. The Hakaarians never got their offense going, their attacks seeming feeble and constantly getting sucked up in the Transvaal midfield. A late attack by the Hakaarians, their only chance that looked like it had promise all day long, was snuffed out when Bert Schut executed a brilliant slide tackle, knocking the ball away so the defense could clear it.
Transvaal advances with 5 points, Marscurian Pakistan advances with 4 points. The Hakaarian Empire and the Minilla Islands are eliminated with 3 points and 2 points respectively.
JUNE 22, 2010
- Vereinigte Deutsche Länder v. Republic of Tahoe 0-1
The first match in the knockout rounds was a simply amazing showcase of football. Manuel Jansen and Goslan Bourkia put on a spectacular show in net, each stopping seven chances, along with a few ones with extreme difficulty, while a superb exhibition of passing was put on by both teams. As it looked as if the first match of the Round of 16 was heading towards penalty kicks to decide who was going to advance, Gersom Salem once again found himself with the ball at his feet. There is something to be said in sports for momentum, and when a player is hot, you simply keep feeding him. Salem juked his way past German defender Arne Badstuber with a nifty sidestep, tapped the ball through the legs of Philipp Lahm, and then spun, bringing the ball with him, around Marcell Neuer and fired a desperation shot before he was even completely around that caught Jansen off guard, sailing into the net just inside the left post. The goal at 90 +2 minutes was the game winner as Salem was mobbed by his teammates as they celebrated on the field, the shocked and dejected German side leaving soon after.
- Queendom of Australia v. Kingdom of Cochin 0-1
The Queendom of Australia, obviously proud at making the knockout stage this Cup after finishing dead last in the previous one, came out strong against a powerful Kingdom of Cochin team. Four early shots on net seemed to leave the Cochin side stunned and reeling before a bad turnover changed the face of the entire match. Pradeep Pappachan intercepted a pass near midfield and raced past the Australian defense, giving himself a one on one opportunity with Australian keeper Jari Aaltonen. As Aaltonen came out to challenge Pappachan’s shot, Pappachan made a very difficult chip over Aaltonen’s head that found the back on the net, sliding in just under the crossbar, in the 25th minute. Australia went back on the attack after that, forcing Cochin keeper Prakash Krishnan to play on top of his game the rest of the way. With a final shot total of 12 to 1 for Australia, everyone would have thought the Aussies would have won on paper. But following a number of stellar stops by Krishnan, Cochin advanced to the Quarterfinals on a 1-0 victory.
- Imperial Hudson Reich v. Republic of Vietnam 0-3
This was the first match of the Round of 16 that really was no contest whatsoever. The Imperial Hudson Reich had advanced out of the easiest group in the tournament, and looked thoroughly outclassed by the Republic of Vietnam from start to finish. Vietnam scored goals in the 24th, 41st, and 67th minutes by Le Cong Tho, Su Per Fly, and Vu Van Dang respectively. The Reich simply never got going and will leave the tournament with the solace that they, at least, made it to the Round of 16, which is more than can be said for half the teams in the tournament.
- Marscurian Pakistan v. Denmark 0-2
Having made it into the Round of 16 by the skin of their teeth, the defending champs looked to continue their title defense against Marscurian Pakistan. Denmark came out looking sharp, making it 1-0 off a diving header goal by Tomas Gravesen in the 13th minute. Maksim Schastlivtsev played well in net throughout the match for Pakistan, who had been relying on him all tournament; as they advanced to the knockout round having only scored one goal for the entire tournament thus far. Still, their offense was again their Achilles heal, with the Pakistanis never presenting a viable option for attack. Jensen Mølby sealed the game in the 75th minute with a blast from inside the penalty area, sending the defending champs on to the Quarterfinals with a 2-0 victory.
- United States of America v. Isara Alliance 4-2
After winning in dramatic fashion to put themselves into the Round of 16, the United States seemed to carry that emotion over into their game against the Isara Alliance. This emotion was evidenced by four, count ‘em, four first half goals by the United States side. Carlos Diaz, Edson Buchanan, DaMarcus Kilmore, and Michael Cazamias all scored before the first whistle, rocketing the USA to a 4-0 lead at the break. While the fans could sense a blowout, the United States came out in the second half seemingly drained of the emotion that had put them on top, and the Darkstars began clawing their way back into the game. Vladimir Ivanov made it 4-1 off a freekick directly into the net in the 55th minute, and Radi Jaeger followed with a marker in 63rd. Just when it seemed like we might have a game again, Niels Klein was called offsides on a sure goal-scoring opportunity, and Isara lost all momentum from there. The game ended as it was, with the United States advancing 4-2.
- Empire of France v. Republic of York 0-1
Republic of York fans had complained about their draw, after technically being the best team in the group stage, drawing one of the highest seeds remaining in the first round of the knockout stage. Still, the formula had been followed so fans really had nothing to complain about. The match was hard fought from start to finish, and twice the French side almost went up on the home team, putting them down a goal. Both times, Thomas Archer made spectacular saves with his fingertips to just barely push the ball past the post or crossbar. Late in the second half, Zachary McCarthy decided to take matters into his own hands. A pass to Carson Pitts freed McCarthy on a run as Pitts placed a beautiful forwarding pass for him. McCarthy caught up on the ball, once again using his speed to pull away from the French defense, before blasting a left-footed shot past a diving Arnaud Rocher. McCarthy sprinted past the keeper, sliding into the net on his knees, hugging and kissing the ball as he was mobbed by his teammates. The score held for the last ten minutes of the game, and the home fans would see their beloved team advance 1-0.
- Athenian Federation v. Arctica 2-0
A favorable draw against Arctica only increased the hopes of the Athenian Federation to advance after failing to make the knockout rounds in the last Cup. Their desire to advance was evident as they simply took it to the Arctica side, scoring once in the first half and once in the second on goals by Kostas Katsouranis and Erjon Bogdani respectively. Arctica never got anything going against the stout Athenian defense, and time after time a hopeful looking attack would be thwarted by a wonderful clearance by Stanislav Manolev, Sotirios Kyrgiakos, or Vangelis Moras. The Athenians celebrated that advancement on to the Quarterfinals with a 2-0 victory.
After last year’s heartbreaking defeat on penalty kicks in the first stage of knockout play, Transvaal looked to ensure that there would be no repeat. Despite Rebel Army’s strong play through the group stages, they looked utterly outclassed by the number one team in the world who simply pushed their way through them on multiple occasions to force shots on net. The game would have been a complete and utter blowout if not for the spectacular play of Essam Fathallah in net for the Rebel Army side. Still, he could not stop every shot, including one from Detlef Botha that ricocheted off his hands and into the net in the 36th minute and one from Samuel Evans that was simply unable to be saved in the 65th minute. Transvaal advanced with their dominated performance, winning 2-0.
JUNE 23, 2010
- United States of America v. Republic of Tahoe 0-1
The match was a tale of missed opportunities and wild momentum swings. The United States, still carrying their momentum from their 4-2 victory over the Isara Alliance, attacked against Tahoe from the opening whistle. A shot that found the back of the net in the 21st minute off the foot of Clint Slate was disallowed due to Slate being offsides. Another chance by Slate in the second half rang off the right post and skirted wide of the net. Jozy Albers also missed a chance at an open net in the second half. With another Republic of Tahoe match looking like it was going to penalty kicks, the United States went on the attack just into stoppage time. A cross from Ricardo Duncan lead to a header on the far post by Edson Buchanon that was handled easily by Goslan Bourkia. As the United States team slowly turned to start back upfield, thinking the match would be over soon, Bourkia fired the ball up the pitch to Bouaziz Hanouf who began a fast breakout that resulted in five Tahoean attackers facing two American defenders and the keeper. Near the penalty area, Hanouf passed the ball out wider to Naim Daoudi who crossed it low to streaking wonderboy Gersom Salem. Salem and USA keeper Brad Garthwaite met at the ball at the same point, sending Salem tumbling over Garthwaite and the ball ricocheting out into the middle of the penalty area. Hanouf, still trailing the play, raced in and buried a right-footed shot into the back of the net, scoring at 90+1 minutes. The United States looked stunned and never again mounted a chance, as Tahoe advanced to the semifinals, 1-0.
- Republic of York v. Kingdom of Cochin 2-1
The Kingdom of Cochin knew that if they wanted to beat the Republic of York in front of their home faithful they would have to do two things: score early to take the crowd out of the match and contain Zachary McCarthy. They nearly managed to do both. The Kingdom came out with a fire and drive that surprised the home side, pushing a ball past Thomas Archer in the 14th minute off the foot of Chou Wa Bei. The crowd was nearly silenced, and the much smaller group of Cochin supporters could easily be heard over the rest of the stadium. It was still 1-0 Cochin at the break, but the Crimson Lions got help from an unlikely source near the beginning of the second half. With Zachary McCarthy relatively quiet, another member of the Syracuse Salty Dogs got into the mix. McCarthy was double-teamed but Harry Issacs, a defender with a quiet Cup thus far, streaked forward towards the opening left by the second defender. McCarthy flicked the pass to him and Issacs buried it into the upper corner of the net, knotting the game at one all. The goal gave the Crimson Lions the confidence to continue attacking, and in the 86th minute, McCarthy himself notched another goal. Off a corner from Otto Kunzleman, McCarthy leapt into the air, allowing the ball to bounce off his chest and then hit the ball before it ever hit the ground with a swing of his left foot, sending it crashing past Prakash Krishnan. Cochin put one more chance on Archer but the ball didn’t find the back of the net in the remaining time and the home side survived to move onto the semis.
- Athenian Federation v. Republic of Vietnam 3-2
The Republic of Vietnam probably has to be rated as the most underrated team heading into this Cup of Nations. Their advancement to the quarterfinals was a surprise and, while most were picking the Athenian Federation to win the match, most probably hoped the Republic of Vietnam would to see the Cinderella story continue. The game was wild and action packed from start to finish, both teams looking much more offensively minded than defensively. Angelos Charisteas got things started for the Athenians, breaking through in the 23rd minute to pound a low shot past Nguyen The Anh. Vietnam responded back in the 42nd, however, as Pham Van Long hooked up with Pham Van Cuong who fired a shot past the diving Kostas Chalkias. The Athenians responded back just before the half though, as Giorgos Karagounis fired a long range shot into the net at 45+2. Vietnam would not stay down for long in the second half, as Nguyen Hong Son knocked a header past Chalkias in the 50th, again tying the game up, this time at two. Vietnam had an excellent chance to go ahead in the 68th minute when Van Sy Hung was taken down in the penalty area and awarded a penalty kick. He approached the ball and delivered a hard shot as Chalkias dove in the opposite direction, but the ball missed the post by a whisker. The Athenians seized their second chance at life, pressing the Vietnamese for the rest of the match, and finally breaking through in the 83rd minute. Karagounis once again found the back of the net, this time on a sliding shot that Anh had no chance at. A few defensive substitutions allowed the Athenians to hold down the fort for the remainder of the match, advancing to the semifinals 3-2.
- Transvaal v. Denmark 2-1
This match featured loads on intrigue because of what happened last Cup. Transvaal entered into the quarterfinals the overwhelming favorites and the plucky team from Denmark, who hadn’t even scored a goal through most of the group stage and needed a last match day miracle to advance to the knockout round, stunned the number one team in the world on penalty kicks. With the memory of the last Cup still fresh in the minds, Transvaal entered the game determined to not allow a repeat of it to happen again. Using their signature physical style of play, the Springboks bullied the Danes up and down the pitch, outmuscling their way to a two goal lead at halftime. Pierre Schulp and Jamie Alcott both provided the markers in the first half. The Springboks made some defensive substitutions at the break, seemingly happy with their two goal lead and content on making Denmark fight their way through a tough, physical defense to get themselves back into it. Though the Danes had played as more of a finesse team throughout the tournament, they proved their mettle in the second half through numerous challenges against the Transvaal defense. Finally, in the 70th minute, the Danes broke through on a defensive lapse by Joep Boekweg. Jensen Mølby, who noticed that Boekweg had pinched up too far in support, made a daring dash towards the back line where he was fed with a beautiful forwarding pass before he slammed the ball past a diving Thurston Alderton. The marker seemed to spark new life in the Danes, but also seemed to harden the resolve of the veteran Springboks side. Despite increased urgency as the minutes wore down, the Danes never again presented a legitimate threat to Alderton in net, and Transvaal advanced to the semifinals having beaten their old nemesis, 2-1.
JUNE 25, 2010
- Athenian Federation v. Republic of Tahoe 2-1
It was a battle between a team finally living up to expectations and a team who was the picture of consistency. After a place in the finals during the last tournament under the name “Carthage”, the team from the Republic of Tahoe was looking to put themselves there again. In the last Cup, the Athenian Federation had come in favored to make the knockout round but had crashed out in disappointment after a tough run in the “Group of Death”. Both teams were out to prove themselves, and both wanted to reach the finals in the worst way.
The match, from the outset, was one that showcased the skills of both squads. Tahoe showed flashed of brilliance with their striking, twice forcing Kostas Chalkias to make sprawling saves to just tip the ball past the post for corners. Another time Chalkias had to charge a free Gersom Salem and dive on the ball at his feet, sending Salem flipping through the air but keeping the ball out of the net. It wasn’t all Tahoe, however. The Athenian side showed their prowess for the game as well, possessing the ball for long stretches inside the Tahoe zone, providing excellent crossing chances three times, two of which went unanswered and one that skimmed just beyond the post off a diving header by Kostas Katsouranis. The first half ended with the score as it had begun, 0-0.
In the second half, the Athenians came out looking much less patient, and more eager to attack the net. This led to a ten minute stretch where the ball hardly left the Tahoe zone, even on clearances, and the Athenians crashed the net time after time after time. A Katsouranis shot in the penalty area deflected off the body of Goslan Bourkia and straight to Erjon Bogdani, who slammed the ball home into the empty net, giving the Athenians a 1-0 lead. The onslaught didn’t stop there as the Athenians continued to crash the net, with Katsouranis this time finding the back of the net on a powerful shot that deflected off Bourkia’s hands and into the net in the 72nd minute, making the score 2-0.
The Republic of Tahoe wasn’t about to just let the Athenians walk their way into the finals, though. A concerted attack put the European side back on their heels, and in the 83rd minute, Tahoe finally put themselves on the board. Naim Daoudi curled a long range shot just inside the right post and out of the reach of Chalkias to put Los Saints within a goal. The American side continued to push, the clock their biggest enemy now as it slowly counted upwards, first towards the end of regulation and then near the end of the three minutes of stoppage time. The Tahoe attack continued however, and in 90+3 minutes, the stars aligned. Alae El Hasnaoui found himself at the near post, Chalkias marking him closely and out of the corner of his eye Hasnaoui saw “Wonderboy” Gersom Salem streaking through the defense towards the far side of the net. Hasnaoui passed the ball past a diving Chalkias, leaving Salem with the ball at his feet and a chance to send the game into penalty kicks. Salem turned his right foot, aiming to tap the ball into the net. His foot connected, the ball shot forward… and missed the right post by a whisker. Salem dropped to his knees in disbelief as the referee’s whistle sounded and the Athenian side celebrated their finals berth around him as they advanced 2-1.
- Transvaal v. Republic of York 1-1 (2-4 PK)
Support for the home side was vocal and boisterous from the beginning, though few expected them to win against the powerhouse Transvaal side whom, after falling last Cup in disappointment, looked to be in top form this Cup. Commentators at home and around the world said that the only chance that York had to beat the number one team in the world was if two things happened: Zachary McCarthy scored, at least once, and if Thomas Archer was able to keep the Transvaal side off the scoreboard.
The first of those two keys happened very early on in the match. Just four minutes in, before the physicality of the Transvaal team had really set in or begun to take its toll, Greg Tanner forced a turnover at midfield and then put a forwarding pass ahead to a streaking Zachary McCarthy, who controlled it just outside the penalty area, took one step, and then fired a left-footed shot past a diving Thurston Alderton into the upper 90 on the left side of the net. The home side faithful went nuts, cheering and signing as McCarthy slid forward on his knees into the corner, his teammates mobbing him.
The match changed after that. Trasnvaal went on the attack and went on the attack hard. Their 3-5-2 formation gobbled up any further York attacks at the midfield point, and forced the Crimson Lions into long passes to try and hit McCarthy or Avery streaking down the field, something they weren’t very successful at. The physical play began taking a toll on the usually physical York side, with stalwarts Carson Pitts, Greg Tanner, and Chip Watson being pushed around like the home fans had never seen before. Only the brilliance of Thomas Archer in net kept the lead at 1-0 for the Republic going into the break.
The second half proved to be a story much like most of the first. York basically gave up trying to attack the Transvaal side, making halftime substitutions that pulled out skipper Benjamin Avery and replaced him with defender John Babcock and pulled David Axelrod and replaced him with the defensive-minded midfielder Terry Darkhorse. The moves switched the Crimson Lions into a 5-3-2 formation, but even more defense couldn’t stop the Springboks from their constant attack. The Springboks finally broke past the exceptional play of Archer in the 73rd minute when a shot ricocheted off the post past Archer and back into the penalty area where Samuel Evans pounded it home. With all the momentum firmly on Transvaal’s side, York fans began to feel like their tournament was going to end in disappointment for the second straight year. But the York defense seemed to sense the urgency of the moment, tightening up and preventing anymore Transvaal penetration. Following a few more spectacular saves by Archer, the match expired and went into penalty kicks.
Samuel Evans, Thurston Alderton, Jamie Alcott, Carlton Drury, and Detlef Botha would be the penalty takers for the Springboks, and they would face off against Chip Watson, Otto Kunzleman, Carson Pitts, Zachary McCarthy, and Sean Hutchinson. Transvaal shot first, with Samuel Evans lining up and firing the shot past Thomas Archer, who dove in the opposite direction. Chip Watson fired off a shot that kissed the underside of the crossbar before squeaking in, tying the shootout at 1-1. Transvaal’s keeper Thurston Alderton shot next, but Archer read the ball and knocked it away with a diving stop. Otto Kunzleman was up next, and pounded a ball that froze Alderton inside the right post, putting the home side up 2-1. Jamie Alcott, always cool as ice, responded in a big way, rocketing home a ball that Archer had no chance at. Carson Pitts, not normally known for his scoring prowess but possessing a big leg that cleared away balls often, was up next and nearly missed the ball, sending in a weak shot that trickled off his heel to the opposite side of the net from where Alderton had dove and crossed the goal line, putting the Crimson Lions up 3-2. Carlton Drury was up next, and his shot was barely nudged aside by Archer who dove at full extension to reach the ball. Zachary McCarthy was up next for the Crimson Lions, knowing that if he put the ball into the back of the net, the Republic would advance to the finals. Approaching the ball, he stepped into it with his left foot and fired, the ball streaking into the upper right 90 of the net, just past the outstretched fingertips of Alderton. The York players mobbed their red-headed hero as they started carrying him off the pitch, a spot in the finals now assured as the Crimson Lions won 1-1 (2-4p).
Bronze Medal Game
Disappointment could be seen in the eyes of each team as they came on to the field, playing earlier in the day for the third place game instead of later for the championship. Still, both teams put forward their starters, intent on national pride in the face of their stinging defeats.
Transvaal wore their plain white uniforms, as they had stated from the beginning of the tournament that they would, in protest of the “new” Tahoe Republic. Fans were heavily separated by riot police for the entire match in the stadium, and each fan base had their own separate entrances to ensure no fights would break out. Where riot police couldn’t be, however, was on the pitch.
Transvaal is known for being a very physical team, but their hatred for whom they saw as the pretend successor state to one of their longest allies surprised even the most veteran football observer. The game was rough from the opening whistle as Gersom Salem was tripped down to the ground hard by Joep Boekweg, who was booked. The game just got uglier from there. It is fair to say that the official may have lost control of the game, but neither team had more fouls called or had more bookings than the other, so in that way it was fair. Still, many watching said it was the roughest match they had seen in a while.
Samuel Evans struck first for the Springboks in the 34th minute after Transvaal’s physical play forced a turnover in Tahoe’s zone, setting up an easy pass from Vorster de Vries to the streaking Evans who slammed the ball home into the back of the net. The Springboks struck again just before the half, this time off a corner kick when Bert Schut rose above the Tahoe defense to slam a header in. With a healthy 2-0 lead at the break and having really outmuscled their opponents, not many saw a way for Transvaal to lose the match.
Give credit to Tahoe for not giving up, however. To combat the Springboks physical play, Tahoe started employing quick, short passes to force the Springboks to chase them over the pitch. There was much less contact at the start of the second half due to this strategy and Tahoe slowly and methodically moved the ball down the pitch. In the 53rd minute, the strategy finally paid off as Alae El Hasnaoui fired a shot from the top of the penalty area that raced past a diving Alderton. With the score now 2-1, Tahoe seemed to have the confidence they needed to tie the match up.
Unfortunately, they didn’t have the experience. With their much more seasoned team, the Springboks once again enforced their will on the Tahoe offense, forcing them to turn the ball over time after time after time. Even as desperation set in late, Tahoe was still not able to get a chance on net. In the end, they were never able to get closer than 2-1, and that’s how the match ended, with Transvaal claiming third place.
- Republic of York v. Athenian Federation 2-1
For both teams, this was a dream come true. For the Republic of York, making a run like this in front of their home fans was something they could have only dreamed of at the start of the tournament. They were the favorites heading into the match, ranked the #5 team in the world, over the Athenian Federation, ranked #11. This could only be described as redemption for the Athenian side, so disappointed last Cup after not making it to the knockout stages. Now, they were in the finals.
Both teams came out and fans could tell: this was going to be an entirely different game from the Transvaal-Tahoe affair earlier. Neither team was looking to be physical with each other, instead relying on excellent passing and finesse to move the ball up and down the pitch. Support was heavy for both sides, with support for the Republic obviously being stronger. The home fans were quieted, however, as Angelos Charisteas got a breakaway off a turnover by David Axelrod near midfield. Charisteas sprinted in on Danny Wheeler who shot out of his box to try and surprise the Athenian striker. Charisteas chipped the ball over Wheeler’s head for a remarkable goal and the Athenians went up 1-0 in the 37th minute. More turnovers followed for the Crimson Lions, who looked nervous and out of sorts after the goal, not able to get into their rhythm.
Finally, Zachary McCarthy took things into his own hands. Off a goal kick, he controlled the ball with his chest, maneuvered around an Athenian midfielder, pushed it through the legs of a defender, and then outsprinted the last two defenders to the net where he blasted a right footed shot past Kostas Chalkias, tying the game at 1-1 in the 45th minute.
The second half was simply dominated by the Athenians. For the entire half, the Crimson Lions looked simply like they were trying to hold on to the draw to get to penalty kicks. Their offense was non-existent and the only reason the Athenian Federation wasn’t up by at least three goals was because of the stellar play of Danny Wheeler, who made three full extension saves to keep the ball out of the net. The minutes ticked away in the second half with no goals scored, and then the match moved into extra time.
Each team knew it would take just one mistake for a winner to be crowned. Even though there was no “golden goal” rule, one in extra time would be devastating to the other team. The first fifteen minutes were uneventful, both teams looking tired and not able to get anything substantial on net. In the second fifteen minutes, with time ticking away, was when a major mistake was made. Giorgos Karagounis was pushing a lazy ground-level crossing pass near midfield to Kostas Katsouranis when Zachary McCarthy gambled, trying to intercept. He just managed to poke the pass away with his toe, and then it was off to the races. Everyone knew that no one was going to catch McCarthy, even at this late stage in the match, which turned it into a showdown between McCarthy and Chalkias. Chalkias decided to do what Wheeler tried to earlier: charge the player. McCarthy noticed him at the last second, flipping the ball upwards as it brushed Chalkias’ fingers. The ball bounced once in front of the net before rolling in, giving York a goal in the 117th minute. Just three minutes later, it was all over. Danny Wheeler was named Man of the Match for his efforts in keeping the score level, Zachary McCarthy was awarded Tournament MVP for his 7 goals, and the Republic of York were the champions of the Cup of Nations II.