6 THINGS WE LEARNED FROM THE QUALIFICATION TOURNAMENT
NYC USA relish the big match
After a surprise draw against NYC Japan, NYC USA erased any doubts of their ability and thoroughly defeated an impressive NYC Afghanistan side.
Whether or not the Americans took the Japan matchup for granted, or simply went into it trying to conserve energy for the two other matches they had to play on the day, one thing is for sure, they knew very well how important their game against NYC Afghanistan was. Not only was it the most hyped match of the day, but it would also decide who would be group winners. Even though they lacked their normal defensive stability against the Japanese, NYC USA really turned up their intensity and defeated NYC Afghanistan 4-2 in a splendid, all-around performance.
As USA president Pat White mentioned in an earlier interview, the experience of the American players will be a valuable asset in this tournament. With that in mind, it should be no surprise to spectators as NYC USA enter each and every one of their matches with supreme confidence and a mindset that no one can defeat them.
NYC Ivory Coast are ready to prove their worth
After a mediocre first weekend of qualifying, NYC Ivory Coast proved that they are ready to face the 'Big Guns' of Cosmos Copa after defeating a seasoned NYC Croatia squad.
The first day of the qualifying tournament saw NYC Ivory Coast lose 2-0 to France and defeat Liberia 1-0. Despite getting three points from their second match, the performance of the Ivorians was not overly convincing. A lack of quality in the final third and a string of lapses in concentration in midfield made it seem as if their hopes of reaching the group stages might not become reality.
However, NYC Ivory Coast came with a new sense of purpose and played exceptional soccer during day 2 of qualifying. They defeated NYC Croatia 2-1 and drew NYC Paraguay 1-1. Although the results do not look all that impressive on paper, the performances were.
The Ivoirians displayed great defensive and midfield shape, created good scoring opportunities, and outplayed a NYC Croatia squad that many thought were a shoo-in to qualify for the group stages. NYC Ivory Coast seem to be coming into their own at the most opportune of times, the other 15 teams at Cosmos Copa would be wise take notice.
It's Attacking Season
Group 1 of the Qualifying Tournament established that success at Cosmos Copa will come from the courage to attack rather than sit back. NYC Argentina and NYC Uruguay proved this by beating the physical yet defensive-minded Cosmos Copa heavyweight, NYC Albania with their attack oriented tactics.
Despite NYC Albania’s storied Cosmos Copa past, they were only able to notch five points from four games, well behind NYC Uruguay and NYC Argentina. While the two South American-based sides displayed no fear in running at opposing defenses, NYC Albania seemed hesitant while in the attacking third, which deeply affected the number of goals they scored: just one in open play.
The Albanian’s physicality and strength could not overcome their lack of creativity in front of goal as they bowed out of Cosmos Copa before reaching the group stages. They’re inabilitly to score goals and subsequent elimination should serve as a warning to sides that will look to just sit back in the Cosmos Copa Group Stages.
A New Force to be Reckoned With
Although it’s their first year participating in Cosmos Copa, NYC Afghanistan seem as if they are seasoned veterans in the tournament. Their professionalism, skill, and tactical knowledge saw them comfortably qualify for the group stages.
Going into the Qualifying Tournament, there was a bit of uncertainty about the Afghan squad, as it was their first time competing at Cosmos Copa. However, the way in which NYC Afghanistan performed in their qualifying matches against difficult opposition proved that they are more than capable of challenging, and defeating, any of the eight pre-qualified teams.
With a varied selection of players at their disposal, from the experienced former National Team Player, Djelaludin Sharityar, to their young, mercurial forward, Mohammed Mashriqi, NYC Afghanistan will be sure to provide Cosmos Copa with some fantastic soccer that will surprise any teams that underestimate them.
Italy are the Most Complete Team Coming out of Qualifying
With an attack that registered 7 goals and a stingy defense that did not concede a goal in four matches, NYC Italy should be considered favorites out of the qualified teams to reach the latter stages of the tournament.
With the composed manner in which they play and their impressive defensive record, led nobly by the regista, Jeff Matteo, NYC Italy will head into the group stages riding high on confidence. They thoroughly dominated possession in all of their qualifying games and displayed a certain coolness in their play that leads one to believe that they’re capable of reaching another level.
In a tournament where a great deal of goals will be expected, Italy’s smothering defense could give them the edge.
Adam Maabdi Will Shine at Cosmos Copa
NYC France's new offensive catalyst registered 4 goals and 2 assists in qualifying. These numbers are impressive but he could've scored even more if he succeeded in finishing a greater majority of his chances. However, Maabdi's pace, skill, and knack for finding space for himself bodes well for NYC France in the Group Stages.
NYC France will be matched with NYC USA, NYC England, and NYC Haiti in Group D of Cosmos Copa. Both England and Haiti made it to last year’s quarterfinals while this year’ USA squad is significantly stronger than last. If the French are to advance out of an extremely competitive group, Adam Maabdi will need to shine.
This may seem like a lot of pressure for a player that is still in college but Maabdi’s play during qualifying proved that he is capable of influencing each and every game he plays in, even at this level. It should be no surprise if his spectacular form carries into the group stages.