QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT: DAY 1 RECAP
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St. V&G 1-1 NYC Albania
St. Vincent & Grenadines, a small island nation of only a little more than 100,000 residents, certainly showed its lack of population in its qualifying opener against 2009 Cosmos Copa champ, NYC Albania. Only bringing 10 players to the match, the squad was dominated for much of the match, as the Albanians maintained possession in their offensive zone for much of the first half.
However, St. V&G was quite fortuitous in that Albania never seemed to be able to turn their scoring opportunities into goals. Albania also struggled to put their free kicks and corner kicks on target, often kicking them out of bounds. After a scoreless first half, Stanley Ballantyne broke away in the 31st minute on a rare St. V&G possession and buried it in the back of the net, catching Albania keeper Asfrim, Lajqi sleeping, causing him to yell at his teammates in frustration, “that’s an own goal.”
Things immediately became chippy after that, with Grayson Alexander of St. V&G drawing a yellow in the 33rd. The coaches on both sidelines had to be separated by the referees. Where Albania struggled with their opportunities, St. V&G capitalized, though, putting shots on goal with their free kicks. Finally, Albania equalized in the 41st minute on a penalty from Ervin Makishta. The score remained that way until the final whistle.
Man of the Match: Klaudio Shala (NYC Albania)
NYC Paraguay 2-1 NYC France
NYC Paraguay started off strong as they created their first chance just three minutes into the match. The Paraguayan left-winger sent a low cross into the box only for his striker to come within inches of tapping home.
After the early scare, NYC France found their rhythm and created some decent opportunities from their good passing play in their attacking third. Their first goal-scoring opportunity came off a cross into the box from, only for Issa Tall to head over the crossbar.
As NYC France continued to keep a majority of the possession, NYC Paraguay launched a counter attack after snuffing out a French attack, which resulted in the game’s opening goal. Emiliano Martinez received the ball right outside the 18-yard box, sidestepped one defender, laid the ball off to his right Jason Gonzales, who slotted the ball past the keeper.
NYC France seemed intent on leveling the score after the setback with a couple of good free-kick deliveries into the box from Mohammed Toufik, but they failed to find a goal.
With about seven minutes remaining in the first half, NYC Paraguay netted their second goal off of another counter attack. After launching a hopeful long ball forward, Neil Riveros allowed the ball to bounce in front of him just inside the 18-yard box and chipped over the keeper with a half volley.
The second half began as the first ended with NYC France controlling possession and Paraguay settling for the counter-attack. However, France were rewarded for their constant flurries forward with a goal from Adam Maadbi. After Fabien Desgroux sent an impressively weighted through ball past the Paraguayan defense, Adam Maadbi poked home from 8 yards out.
France, once again, nearly found a leveler after the Paraguayan goalkeeper fumbled a shot from Adam Maadbi.
With seven minutes left, NYC France received a penalty after a handball in the box. Fabien Desgroux stepped up to the missed wide left with a less-than impressive spot-kick.
Just minutes later, Issa Tall of NYC France received a red card right before the full time whistle blew.
Man of the Match: Emiliano Martinez (NYC Paraguay)
NYC Argentina 3-1 NYC Uruguay
After some initial confusion when both teams wore their country’s light blue jerseys, Argentina donned neon green pennies, quickly distinguishing themselves in appearance from Uruguay by uniform and by play. Argentinean striker Lucas Herrera set the tone for the match with a low free kick from about 25 yards out in the 4th minute that scorched the grass and rocketed past the keeper, who never had a chance. Ten minutes later, Paulo Esain tallied a penalty to make it 2-0 going into the half.
Tempers flared in the second half, as both squads complained to the refs of physical play and perceived uncalled penalties. On a rare Uruguay break into the Argentina defense, which had done a stellar job of deflecting most threats, Mathias Jorge rocketed one from the left corner to the right post, but Uruguay’s hope of a comeback was quickly crushed when Argentina’s Caesar Manrique struck back just a minute later, making the final score 3-1.
Man of the match: Maximiliano Garcia (NYC Argentina)
NYC Croatia 2-0 NYC Liberia
The second game of group 2 saw NYC Croatia defeat NYC Liberia 2-0.
The first half saw NYC Croatia create the majority of goal scoring opportunities. With what can be best described as a blitzkrieg type of offensive assault, NYC Croatia shot wide, hit the cross bar, failed to poke past the keeper from 5 yards out, and missed high on a number of occasions.
However, NYC Croatia’s first corner of the match created the opening goal. After a blistering delivery from Kristopher Bistre, NYC Liberia headed the ball out of the box only for Marjan Jurac to control it, and hit a half volley from 25 yards out into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
After failing to create any scoring chances throughout the first half, Liberia almost drew level right before halftime when Marin Filipovic was played through by a lofted through ball. However, he failed to take advantage of the opportunity, as he could not control the ball inside the 6-yard box.
Liberia came out of the half-time break with more offensive bite as they seized a greater percentage of possession. They thought they found a leveler mid-way through the second-half only for the goal to be called offside by the linesman.
They nearly found a legitimate equalizer with an expertly taken direct free kick from Charles Dukuly. The Croatian goalkeeper only managed to parry the ball in front of his goal. NYC Liberia had a chance to nick the ball in during the ensuing scuffle, but they failed to capitalize.
Croatia sealed the game with their second goal three minutes from time. After cutting out a Liberian attack, they countered with three men to NYC Liberia’s one defender, and after a couple of passes, Kevin Scrivanich slotted into the back of the net with the keeper helpless.
Man of the Match: Filip Concar (Croatia)
NYC Albania 3-0 NYC Guyana
NYC Guyana forfeited this match.
NYC France 2 – 0 NYC Ivory Coast
NYC France defeated NYC Ivory Coast 2-0 in the third game of Group 2.
It was an even first half, with both teams creating chances with their creative attacking play.
The best chance of the first half fell to the French midfielder, Gabriel Bagot but he blazed his shot over the bar.
In the second half, France opened the scoring when Adam Maadbi made a slaloming run down the sideline, skipped past two defenders, and passed the ball across the face of the goal for Zohair Gremania to tap in.
Seven minutes later, NYC France doubled their lead with a goal from Maxime Batel. Once again, Adam Maadbi provided the assist.
NYC Ivory continued to search for their first goal, but their inability to use the flanks stunted a majority of their attacks.
With five minutes left in the match, Adam Maadbi found himself on a breakaway after latching onto the end of a through ball. However, his chip attempt failed to beat the NYC Ivory Coast’s goalkeeper.
Man of the Match: Adam Maadbi (NYC France)
NYC St. V&G 0-1 NYC Argentina
St. Vincent and Grenadines was once again playing a man down in their second qualifying match against Argentina. However, the team was able to penetrate into the offensive zone much more effectively than in its earlier contest against Albania. Unfortunately for St. V&G, it didn’t show on the scoreboard, as they dropped a 1-0 decision, moving Argentina to 2-0 in group 1. The St. V&G midfielders were able to advance the ball much more effectively, but they were plagued by a series of yellow cards throughout the match in their necessary efforts to overcompensate being down a man especially when trying to get to 50/50 balls.
The only goal conceded was a rather poor one. In the 30th minute, Argentina’s Juan Lencina shot from the left side about 25 yards out on a three-on-two breakaway. When St. V&G goalkeeper couldn’t pull the easy shot into his chest, Lencina tapped in his own rebound for the only goal of the game.
Man of the Match: Lencina (NYC Argentina)
NYC Paraguay 0-2 NYC Croatia
NYC Croatia defeated NYC Paraguay 2-0 in a physical game that saw the second red card in Group 2 play.
The first chance of the match came via a free kick from NYC Croatia’s Marjan Jurac. It skipped right past the far post, inches from an attack player rushing to head it home.
NYC Paraguay nearly took the lead after 15 minutes when a lightning quick counter attack resulted in a chip over the Croatian keeper that found the back of the net but the goal was called back for offside.
NYC Croatia broke the deadlock just moments later off of a throw in. Thomas Skara launched a long throw that Marko Loncar flicked on towards the far post where Vjekoslav Luburic headed home.
About halfway through the first half, an insane series of events occurred. A scuffle in the box occurred after NYC Paraguay’s goalkeeper, Dario Cabañas parried a shot in front of his goal. As an NYC Croatia player pounced on the ball to send it home, Paraguay’s Steven Arellio, took a play from Luis Suarez’s handbook, and blocked a certain goal with his hand. Croatia’s Anthony Viskavich stepped up to the spot to take the resulting penalty and missed.
The opening portion of the second half saw NYC Croatia use their man advantage to dominate possession. Although NYC Paraguay still carried a threat on the break.
NYC Croatia’s Ivan Micuda had a chance to ice the game with 15 minutes left when he unleashed a shot from 10 yards out. Cabañas made the save but the rebound fell back to Micuda whose sailed over the crossbar.
Marin Filipovic finally doubled Croatia’s lead with five to go when he slotted the ball home under very little defensive pressure.
Man of the Match: Vjekoslav Luburic (NYC Croatia)
NYC Guyana 0-3 NYC Uruguay
After forfeiting their first game, resulting in an automatic 3-0 defeat, Guyana still came away with the same result even with men on the field, dropping another 3-0 decision to Uruguay. After a slow start from both sides, Nicolas Serolini finally broke the ice for Uruguay with a nifty goal off a corner kick. After Mathias Jorge kicked it into the box, Serolini deftly tapped it in to the back post.
Guyana’s slow keeper was no match for the quick pace of the Uruguay striker’s shots, and he didn’t appear to be able to put much effort into diving after any of two goals scored in the second half. The mid-range strikes from Alejandro Rivera and Gonzalo Dapia in the 30th and 38th minutes respectively were both expertly placed inside the post.
Guyana had a chance to retain some dignity in the closing moments off of a tapped-in corner, but the shot when off the crossbar at the final whistle.
Man of the Match: Mathias Jorge (Uruguay)
NYC Ivory Coast 1-0 NYC Liberia
NYC Ivory Coast defeated NYC Liberia 1-0 in the fifth and final group 2 match of the day. A first half goal from team captain Amos Zereoue was enough for the Ivorians to secure their first win of the qualifying tournament.
The early stages of the first half produced an evenly matched contest where both teams were locked in a midfield battle. The middle of the park was extremely congested as both teams struggled to find any width.
However, NYC Ivory Coast were able to break the deadlock midway through the first half with a goal from Zereoue. After controlling a ball from the right wing, Zereoue coolly slotted into the far post .
NYC Liberia’s most prominent chance of the first half came when Jeremiah Harris latched onto a bouncing ball about 10 yards out and volleyed high.
The second half would showcase an even more intense midfield battle between the two teams including some promising build up play from NYC Ivory Coast. There were numerous instances where they found themselves in behind NYC Liberia’s backline but they lacked quality with their final pass.
NYC Liberia had a chance to tie the match with just two minutes left but Richard Nagbe’s shot was off target.
Man of the Match: Amos Zereoue (NYC Ivory Coast)
NYC Egypt 1-6 NYC Bolivia
In a wonderful display of attacking ability, NYC Bolivia hit six goals past NYC Egypt to win 6-1.
After going close numerous times in the opening 15 minutes, the Bolivian pressure finally paid off when Roy Cespedes lost his marker and slotted the ball home from the top of the box.
Egypt responded almost immediately when team president, John Tanios pounced on some poor Bolivian defending to finish from 6 yards out.
After conceding that surprise equalizer, it was all NYC Bolivia from here on out . Moments later, Kevin Riveros brought down a long clearance from his goalkeeper cleverly, took two touches and beat the Egyptian keeper at the near post.
Then right at the stroke of halftime Luis Eduardo Martinez jumped on a cheeky back heel in the box and powered the ball past the Egyptian keeper who got a hand to it but couldn’t keep it out.
In the second half, goals from Diego Oña, a second from Kevin Riveros and one from Marco Orias secured the big win for NYC Bolivia.
Man of the Match: Kevin Riveros (NYC Bolivia)
NYC Afghanistan 1-0 NYC Japan
Making their debut at Cosmos Copa, NYC Afghanistan pulled out a narrow win against a spirited NYC Japan side in a scrappy and tense match.
The Afghan attack was menacing all day and after twenty minutes Yusef Mashriqi took a long ball down with the sole of his foot beautifully and laid it back to Mujibullah Mashriqi whose shot missed narrowly.
Minutes later, the Japanese responded with a corner kick set piece routine straight out of the training ground that resulted in a Japanese header to miss narrowly.
Right before the half, Mujibullah Mashriqi had another good look but his low drive from twenty yards went straight to the keeper.
In the second half, Afghanistan’s attack really got going while their stout defense shut down Japan’s tricky attackers. At the thirty-minute mark, Afghanistan’s Djelaludin curled in a delightful free kick that the Japanese keeper did well to dive and save.
Shortly thereafter, Mohammed Mashriqi had a goal disallowed for infringement after he headed the ball into the back post from a deep cross. This would be foreshadowing to the eventual gamewinner, when the same player bundled Idris Masgriqi’s dangerous back post ball into the net for the game’s only goal.
Man of the Match: Mohammad Mashriqi (NYC Afghanistan)
NYC Italy 1-0 NYC Portugal
NYC Italy narrowly edged NYC Portugal 1-0 in a hard fought match.
The games only goal came in the 15th minute when in an awkward play, two Italian strikers both converged on the ball near the Portuguese goal on the left side of the box. The Portuguese keeper Paul Figueiredo was able to stop the attempt, but was unable to hold on to the ball and Frank Alesci was there to tap poke it in for one of the more bizarre goals of the day. The Portuguese defense argued that the ball had crossed the back line during the fight for possession, but the refs ruled that it had stayed in play the entire time.
In the second half, the Italian defense really came to life, deftly clearing away any threats and not forcing the Italian keeper, Giovanni Rosso, to have to break a sweat to preserve the 1-0 victory.
Man of the Match: Frank Alesci (NYC Italy)
NYC USA pulled off one of the best performances of day 1 of qualifying when they routed NYC Kosova, 5-0.
NYC USA’s Diego Barahona opened the scoring with a low shot just outside the 6-yard box after some sloppy play in the Kosova penalty box.
In the final seconds of a first half that they dominated, NYC USA found a second goal through a slick string of passes right outside the 18-yard box. Kevin Meyer delivered the final pass to Chris Bayon, who narrowly beat the offside trap, and coolly scored.
Just five minutes into the second half NYC USA added to their lead after Jordan Chirico’s direct free kick took a deflection off of the wall and found the back of the net.
Chris Bayon continued the rout after converting a simple tap in after Alex Cruz’s sliced shot, which was off target, left the keeper out of position. Bayon would go on to add another one minutes later to secure the 5-0 victory.
Man of the Match: Chris Bayon (NYC USA)
NYC Italy 0-0 NYC Bolivia
The winners from the first two matches in Group 3 met in a tactical battle between two quality teams that ended in a stalemate.
Italy had to play their matches back-to-back, and they did show some heavy legs, especially towards the end. However that match was still very back and forth with Italy creating the better chances.
The influential Italian captain Jeff Matteo dictated proceedings for New York City’s Azzuri from his usual deep midfield spot.
After a first half where neither team created many clear-cut chances. Halfway through the second half, Bolivia’s Kevin Riveros put Julio Salinas through on goal but he blazed his shot over the bar.
After that, the two teams traded chances. Bolivia had a flurry of late chances but they couldn’t beet the Italian keeper, Giovanni Rosso.
In one of the final plays of the game, Italy’s Michele Giacobbone put in one of his trademark long throws that Frank Alesci headed wide.
Man of the Match: Jeff Matteo (NYC Italy)
NYC Egypt 1-5 NYC Spain
In his debut at Cosmos Copa, Spain’s Steven Nyarady, made sure his name was known with a sensational hat trick to propel his country to a 5-1 victory over NYC Egypt.
Nyarady opened the scoring in the 9th minute Striking on a feed from about 10 yards out, pouncing a feed from Pablo Medina. After breaking the deadlock the Spaniards never looked back in their first ever match at Cosmos Copa.
Just six minutes later, Daniel Soberon charged down the field to score an amazing strike to the opposite to the far corner from about 30 yards out. This second goal really seemed to demoralize the Egyptians, as they immediately conceded another goal immediately after kicking off again—a solo charge from Nyarady again—to make the score 3-0.
Nyarady completed his hat trick after just 20 minutes to complete a remarkable debut half at Cosmos Copa
Just a few minutes into the second half, Spain made it 5-0 after Carlos Vasquez slotted home. Egypt spoiled Spain’s clean sheet when George Tardes scored to pull it back to 5-1 but by that point the game was all but over.
Man of the Match: Steven Nyarady (NYC Spain)
NYC Afghanistan 2-1 NYC Holland
NYC Afghanistan notched their second victory in Group 4 with a 2-1 win over NYC Holland.
After a competitive and physical twenty minutes, NYC Afghanistan took the lead through a headed goal from the impressive Yusef Mashriqi. The goal was created by an exquisite bit of wing play from Gurash Paiman.
The remainder of the first half was dominated by NYC Afghanistan. They controlled possession, had more opportunities, and did not allow NYC Holland a sniff of goal.
After coming out of the halftime break with a more aggressive approach, NYC Holland scored their equalizing goal through Eli Muis. He was sprung loose behind the NYC Afghanistan defense from a through ball, took two touches and lashed a strike across the frame of goal, into the net.
Making up for their defensive lapse, NYC Afghanistan quickly responded to NYC Holland’s goal by scoring their second through Easa Hotaky’s clinical finish past the Dutch goalkeeper. The goal came just two minutes after the Dutch equalizer.
After scoring what would prove to be the winning goal, NYC Afghanistan stifled the Dutch attack that seemed to have been gaining confidence just minutes before. Other than a couple of counter attacks, NYC Holland were never able to get their attack going again.
Man of the Match: Mohammad Mashriqi (NYC Afghanistan)
NYC Portugal 0-1 NYC Spain
After its dominating win over NYC Egypt, the Spaniards had to work a bit harder to secure their three points against NYC Portugal. However, a sloppy rebound goal from Steven Nyarady in the 32nd minute was enough to give them the 1-0 victory.
The game was a very disjointed affair, as midfielders on both team’s had trouble maintaining possession. The defending was also typically robust as both nations wanted to get one over on their Iberian rival.
This caused things to get a bit contentious, escalating with a red card to Spain’s Christian Sande in the 46th minute. Sande claimed he was merely yelling at a fallen Portuguese player to get up after having fallen to the ground, but the referees interpreted it as an aggressive charge and the red card was shown.
With the man advantage, the Portuguese continued to desperately search for an equalizer but in the end the lone goal held up, and Spain collected six points on the day.
Man of the Match: Mario Samara (NYC Spain)
NYC Japan 2-1 NYC Kosova
In a tense and dogged affair, NYC Japan got their first win of Cosmos Copa 2012 with a 2-1 victory over NYC Kosova
After fifteen minutes, NYC Kosova had a goal disallowed after the assistant referee spotted an offsides.
Seconds later, on the very next play, NYC Japan scored after their defender got on the end of a long ball and slotted home. A minute later, NYC Japan almost made it two as they headed just over the crossbar off from a corner kick.
Right before halftime, NYC Kosova capitalized on a poor backpass in the Japanese penalty box to steal possession, but they failed to capitalize as the ensuing shot went over the crossbar.
Two minutes into the second half Kosova even the scoreline from a goal from Roberto Dashi. The goal came from a good build up play and a series of slick passes from the NYC Kosova midfield.
However, just three minutes after NYC Kosova’s goal, NYC Japan came right back and re-took the lead. After a long ball forward, the Japanese forward received the ball on the bounce, ran past a defender that lost his footing, sidestepped another, and passed the ball to the far post leaving no chance for the goalkeeper.
With just a few minutes left, NYC Kosova broke in behind the NYC Japan defense and managed to sneak a shot on goal. However, the Japanese keeper made an impressive save to seal the victory.
Man of the Match: Soung Foon Choa (NYC Japan)