Sonntag, 22. Juni 2014

County of Nice



I am very happy to get hold of this shirt of the first ConIFA World Champion! My French is not good, but I understand a loud shouted "Champion du Monde" as you can see it in this "welcome back" video of the arrivel of the team at the airport in Nice...as champions du monde: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fx5aEH3ndKw

The County of Nice had an amazing story before and during the World Football Cup. After Zanzibar and Quebec resigned ConIFA invited County of Nice and South Ossetia in a very short notice of approx 5 weeks before the tournament. Especially Nice did not even have a squad or coach when they got the mail that they are on board! What then happened was amazing. They gathered a squad including French stars like former Paris St. Germain and AS Monaco playr Eric Cubilier and many youth players from OGC Nice. They found support of the assistant manager of OGC Nice as their head coach. They got promotion help of Hugo Lloris, who officially presented their shirt, during his training camps for Brazil.
The expectation were amazing when the newly gathered team came to Östersund. In their very first match, against Ellan Vannin, everything seemed to be in danger already as they lost 4:2. It was obvious to see for everybody that those lads were good footballers, but not a team yet.
So they had a first all-or-nothing match against Nagorno-Karabakh, which was in the same situation, but would go through if they just hold a draw. In an extremely intense match, with 2 red cards, County of Nice was able to score the only goal.
So they went through to quarters, where they played as a great team for the first time and kicked out favorite Padania with a 2:1 win. They then hammered the other reserve team South Ossetia in the semis before they won the goalless final against Ellan Vannin after penalties.
I want to use that few lines to thank the whole management of County of Nice for the shirt and especially the players for entertaining us so perfectly with that amazing football. But I also have to thank the up to 5,000 Nicards who watched the final on huge public places. Enjoy your well-deserved fame now dear Champion du Monde ;)
The shirt itself is quite simple, but especially the logo is very lovely. Obviously 5 weeks were not enough to create a very sophisticated unique design this time. But I am sure we will see the current World Champion way more often in future!

Ellan Vannin




This wonderful Ellan Vannin (Manx Gaelic for "Isle of Man) shirt was a gift of the Manx International Football Alliance president Malcolm Blackburn to me. He presented it to me emotionally on the stage at the closing ceremony of the World Football Cup in Östersund.
The shirt was worn during the tournament by Jack McVey, the number 14 of team Ellan Vannin.
Ellan Vannin, which represents the Isle of Man, made its debut just 2 months before the World Football Cup in a friendly match against Monaco, which they won 10:0.
Nevertheless, as most of the players come from the 5th Division of English football, Ellan Vannin was rated with odds of 1:350, which was the second worst ofthe whole World Football Cup. So, to be fair, most expected them to go out in their strong group.
The first match began as expected, too. They quickly went down 0:2 against Nagorno-Karabakh before they hit one back. Just in the last 5 minutes they were then able to turn around the match and make an historic 3:2 win against the Artsakh team. This was the crazy begin of an emotional and weird run.
Just one day later they won against County of Nice with a straight 4:2 after controlling most of the match against a team, which had quite a couple of full-pros from France.
Fueled by that success suddenly the whole Island stood behind them and the matches were livestreamed in all pubs on the Islands, even though it was the week of the Tourist Trophy (TT), one of the most followed bike races in the world.
The team really needed that supported for the quarter finals where they met the current World Champion Kurdistan. Kurdistan not only was the favorite to win the competion. Kurdisten also has a population of 25 Million people against the only 80.000 from the Isle of Man.
Somehow Ellan Vannin was able to draw 1:1 against Kurdistan after coming back from a 0:1. In the penalty shootouts they netted all their 4 penalties and went through to the never expected semis.
Their dream run continued when they beat Arameans Suryoye 4:2 and advanced to the first ConIFA World Football Cup final!
The final, against group opponent County of Nice, finished goalless and in the end it was their captain Chris Bass Jr. who missed the only penalty.
I really love that shirt a lot, mainly because the story behind it. I experienced all the passion and love for the game and the island first hand when I was in Östersund and I am very happy that they gave me this fantastic shirt.
Thanks Malc!

Aramean Suryoye



 All my thanks for this shirt go to Melke Alan, the team manager of Arameans Suryoye. He gifted me this shirt at the closing ceremony of the 2014 World Football Cup of ConIFA.
The shirt was worn during the whole tournament by number 21, Bertino Nacar, who is, like me, from Cologne and played the last 5 years in the 5th German Division for different teams - most prominent probably SV Meppen. His greatest moment in his career, despite being bronze medal winner in the World Football Cup with his Aramean Suryoye team, was probably scoring in the first round of the German Cup against Werder Bremen for his club Eintracht Nordhorn. This game finishes 3:9 from the POV of Nordhorn in 2008, but how many semi-pros can say that they netted one against Werder Bremen ?
During the World Football Cup Aramean Suryoye had to fight hard against fitness issues and injuries, because their squad only had 18 players. Nevertheless, at least looking at the individual quality, they were considered the top favorite with Kurdistan before the tournament kicked off.
They just started the tournament then with a first win (2:1) against the reigning World Champion Kurdistan. After another 2:0 win against Tamil Eelam they surely topped their group and met Occitania in the quarters. Surprisingly Occitania fought bravely to make it to the penalties, where Aramean Suryoye had the luck on their side.
In the semi final a special match awaited them. During the time in the hotel they got close friends with the team Ellan Vannin from the Isle of Man and now they had to face them. The management of Arameans Suryoye told me before the match: We want to win this tournament, but if we have to loose a match, then we would be happy to loose against those lads who got real friends. The Aramean Suryoye management even wore Ellan Vannin pins on their suits during the match.
In the end they really lost that match, surprisingly high with 1:4 and thus had to play the bronze match against the team of the Republic of South Ossetia. In that match they rediscovered their own strenght and beat them 4:0 before starting a huge and long party together with their friends from Ellan Vannin!
The shirt itself is absolutely cracking. I love the very special design and of course the Aramean Suryoye logo. Also to me the management and some players from Aramean Suryoye became good friends in Östersund, even though I nearly killed them with my driving skills ;)
Again a big thanks to Melke: Not only for the shirt but also for a great week together in Östersund!

Occitania



 This is another shirt I got during the World Football Cup of ConIFA in Östersund, but it was not worn there but in the 2013 Tynwald Hill International Tournament on the Isle of Man, which Occitania won, captain by their captain and number 10 Boris Massare.
Coming with loads of self-confidence to the World Football Cup after winning the Tynwald Hill tournament Occitania did not loose a single match - but finished nevertheless only 7th. In the group stages they drew 1:1 to Abkhazia and won 1:0 against the host Sapmi. In the quarter final, which they reached as runners-up after Abkhazia, they drew again, 0:0, against one of the favorites: Aramean Suryoye. But they lost 7:6 in a thrilling penalty shootout then. In the placement semis they again drew, this time 2:2, against the top favorite Kurdistan, but lost on penalties again.
Finally they were able to beat Abkhazia in 90 minutes by a 1:0 victory to grab the 7th place.
The shirt itself is just brilliant and symbolizes the Occitanian flag. The sponsor applied to it is a Manx company that surely bet on the right partner in 2013 during the Tynwald Hill tournament.
Personally I am a huge fan of the very homogenous team that fights with loads of spirit and pride and is always able to upset, on paper, much better teams like Kurdistan or Aramean Suryoye in 90 minutes.
I want to especially thank Boris Massare for this shirt as I hunted him at least 2 years with the wish for a shirt and he finally made it happen. Thanks Bobo!

Abkhazia




I got this shirt during the World Football Cup of ConIFA in Östersund directly from the Abkhaz team. It is matchworn during the tournament by number 4, which I think was Almashan Dzeniia, pictured above in the away shirt.
Abkhazia was a little bit unlucky during the tournament by finishing 8th in the end, despite they only lost one match: A 0:1 against Occitania in the placement match for place 7/8. Before that they topped their group after drawing 1:1 to Occitania and winning against the host Sapmi 2:1. In the quarter they lost the "derby" against South Ossetia only in penalty kick-offs after a technical high-level 0:0 draw. In the placement match semi-finals they again draw, against favorite Padania, after a superb comeback 3:3.
In the end they can be considered as one of the positive surprises that played on a very admirable level and was captained by an amazing Ruslan Adzhinzhal, who was also picked as the MVP of the team.
The shirt itself is pretty simple, but still historic being the first shirt they wore during any tournament. The white and green colours do have a special meaning in the Abkhaz flag and on their shirt: They symbolize the Islam (green) and Christianity (white) that live equally together (thus the stripes on the flag have the same length and same number of stripes). What a brilliant and rare symbol of peace!

Dienstag, 17. Juni 2014

US Virgin Islands

In the Carribean something very special happened during the 2014 World Cup qualification campaign. The USA beat the British team.... no, not the Three lions and USMNT. "Just" the US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. However, thanks to 2 goals of Reid Klopp, who had a couple of chats with me before, they kicked out the BVI in the first playoff match and advance to a group stage. 
This was an amazing succes, even though the USVI team had to realize that the teams in that group are a bit above their level. They finished the group with Haiti, Antigua and Barbuda and Curacao as last: With 0 points and 2:40 goals in 6 matches.

The shirt itself is very nice for such a "small" team in the Carribean and I am glad to see Admiral back on the football shirt stage in FIFA finally. Admiral really created a cracking design which perfectly includes the logo into the shirt.
Important remark: This is an official shirt! The shirt of "St.Thomas FC" was never worn by nobody on the USVI and is just a marketing gag.

All my thanks - again - go to Nick! This shirt was also part of the wedding package. Thanks mate, I love that shirt and the step I made thanks to you in the CONCACAF region is huge to me!

St Kitts and Nevis

 
 
After recently adding St Lucia and Cayman Islands I can, again thanks to Nick's wedding package, add another Carribean football shirt. St Kitts and Nevis are unknown in football to most people, but of course the world football expert, the fan of Sturm Graz, Hull City or Happy Valley knows Keith Gumbs, their superstar and record national team player.
Even if you do not know the team or are not interested in it, you just have to love the crane logo of the FA. Again the shirt itself is just a boring template, though.