2014 QUARTERFINALS PREVIEW: MATCH TWO
By Ben Tetelman
Match two of the Cosmos Copa Quarterfinals features one of the most exciting pairings yet. NYC Senegal, who have found themselves on the losing end in two of the past three Copa Finals, will look to end NYC Afghanistan’s epic run.
NYC Senegal escaped Group B this past weekend after a 2-0 win over NYC Ivory Coast. The win secured a top spot in the group and a number one seed in the quarterfinals for the West African side.
The victory was somewhat of a necessity for NYC Senegal, who found themselves in a three-way deadlock entering the last game of the group stage. With four consecutive 0-0 draws in Group B, it looked as if a penalty shootout could decide which nation would advance.
However, NYC Senegal was not about to leave their fate in the 2014 tournament up to chance. The team came out firing against NYC Ivory Coast, showcasing their speed and strength along the flanks. With a quarterfinals position on the line, the game featured rough, physical play.
In the end, some hard hits from NYC Ivory Coast were not enough to overthrow NYC Senegal, who remained strong after netting two goals.
NYC Senegal are now making a fourth straight quarterfinals appearance. Fresh off a heartbreaking loss in last year’s final to NYC France, Senegal will look to reach the final again at Shuart Stadium and capture their first ever Cosmos Copa Championship.
NYC Afghanistan will try to spoil NYC Senegal’s hopes of bringing home Africa’s first ever Copa Championship. The dark horses of the tournament have been outstanding thus far, and with no shortage of confidence, NYC Afghanistan has a chance to shock the Copa world again when they take the pitch at Flushing Meadows Park this weekend.
Among the many questions in Cosmos Copa thus far, one remains salient: does the dark horse of the tournament have what it takes to win it all?
NYC Afghanistan stunned onlookers as their two victories over NYC Italy and NYC Albania propelled them into the second spot in Group D. Their 4-1 triumph over former champions NYC Albania this past Saturday was the strongest game the Afghans have played thus far.
NYC Afghanistan’s ability to control the ball and make clever passes through the defense was a nightmare for NYC Albania.
“They just outsmarted us,” said one Albanian player after the match.
But NYC Afghanistan’s domination in the group stage was cut short when defending champions NYC France demonstrated why they are a threat to repeat.
Les Bleus of NYC put on a clinic, defeating NYC Afghanistan 4-0. The game, which was the second of the day for NYC Afghanistan, proved to take a toll on many of the players.
Even with a tough defeat, team president Waheed Khosdal was thrilled with the result of this past weekend. As NYC Afghanistan make their first ever quarterfinals appearance, Khosdal shared some of the things he hopes his team will do better.
“We are looking to improve our team in terms of consistency,” he said in an interview. “In terms of change, we have been looking good and we just have to be better prepared in terms of individual preparedness. Each player needs to have a clear mindset going into the game.”