POTP Cup of Nations Where Football Isn’t The Most Popular Sport #4 – Round of 16

Ok, it’s time to get down to business with the beginning of the knock-out phase of the POTPCONWFITMPS (catchy, eh?). Click here for all entries in our tournament review.

Round of 16

Having lost New Zealand, Tonga, Pakistan, Lithuania, China, Philippines, Finland and Fiji at the end of the Round 1, here are how the brackets for the next stage turned out:

Latvia vs Japan:

As mentioned last time, the fact that the first placed team from Group 1 – Japan – was scheduled to play the best 3rd placed team – Latvia, also from Group 1 – meant that the opening (and second) game of the second round was unfortunately to be a replay from the first. This administrative oversight was a bit of a black-eye for the tournament as a whole, but we persevere.

On paper Japan were the stronger side, with Latvia’s goalkeeper their only slight advantage. When the sides met on Matchday 2, it had been 3-1 win for Japan:

Still without their own kits, which were stolen from the hotel before the Cup began, Latvia continue to use borrowed sets from their neighbours Lithuania:

The opening half left little to report, save a foul and yellow card for Latvia’s Rimkus who had scored five goals in the group stage:

An equally dull second-half followed, with the best of the chances seemingly coming to Latvia midway through. But, just as extra-time seemed inevitable, a series of corners late in the game led to Miura taking control of the ball inside the box and lashing it home for a late Japanese winner:

Latvia were going home, while veteran Mirua claimed the man of the match award after his third goal of the campaign:

Latvia 0-1 Japan

USA vs Estonia:

Another replay from Round 1, this time from the opening round of fixtures, and another game that had seen a 3-1 scoreline to the bigger nation. But with the Estonians arguably considered the better of the two teams, revenge was on the agenda for the Baltic side:

The US continued their new tradition of wearing gold kits, to symbolise their desire for the gold medals (even though no such medals were promised to the winners):

Early on, America’s Wynalda had the ball in the net, but it was ruled out for off-side:

Only one other long-range shot at the end of the half threatened Estonia, who themselves offered little. Much like the earlier game, the second-half was also a cagey affair with barely a shot at all until the closing few minutes, when Wynalda finally scored for real to send the US through despite goalkeeper Poom’s best efforts:

USA 1-0 Estonia

JAPAN PLAY USA IN QUARTER FINAL

Cuba vs Panama:

Next came the first of two all-Latino encounters in the Round of 16 as Cuba met Panama, the latter of which had only made it through thanks to India’s upset defeat of Finland at the very end of the group stage. But as the stronger of the two here, Panamanian confidence of continued progression was high:

Cuba’s gear had been on the same flight as Lithuania’s, hence their need to borrow Claire GAA kits for the tournament (which, as it turned out, were somehow the cheapest option available):

Once again the first half remained scoreless. Due to a lack of goalkeeper kits, Cuba received an extension of an exemption for their ‘keeper to wear an outfield attire, which was very confusing:

For the third game in a row extra-time looked likely only to be denied a late strike. After a long throw-in was fumbled by the Panama goalkeeper, Ramos was on hand to casually take advantage of an open goal opportunity:

The ‘keeper was distraught and rightfully so as his side were out:

Cuba 1-0 Panama

Australia vs Canada:

The fourth game of the second round was a very intriguing affair between two quite similar states – both covered huge landmasses with comparatively small populations and were properties of the British crown, yet both were non-football loving people on the whole. Naturally the two sides measured up fairly evenly:

FINALLY both countries were wearing their correct kit colours (for fuck sake):

With a couple of half chances only, surprise surprise, the first-half ended 0-0. A yellow card was also handed out for players on each side, which had consequences later as Canada’s Hooper would go on to receive his second on and was sent off – the second red of the tournament so far:

australia-canada-3

The player was noticeably shaken up as he walked off, no doubt acutely aware of the predicament he was leaving his teammates in as extra-time loomed:

But the negative effect was in fact far more immediate, as, resulting directly from the free-kick that followed, Trajanovski scored this amazing wonder-strike to send Australia through:

Australia 1-0 Canada

CUBA PLAY AUSTRALIA IN QUARTER FINAL

Ireland vs Wales:

Many people’s pick of the round was up next, with the “Celtic Derby” of Ireland vs Wales. Like Japan and Cuba, the Irish had impressed with three wins out of three up to this point and were looking to take advantage of their marginal strengths over the Welsh in most areas, especially in running ability:

The two sides again faced off in kits more or less representative of their real-life equivalents, which was nice to see and added to the gravitas of the occasion:

Halfway through the half, Ireland allowed Hughes too much space with the ball and he unloaded on Bonner from outside the box this rocket to make it 0-1 Wales:

Frustration got the better of Staunton, who was yellow-carded for a clumsy tackle before the break, followed by a Keane booking for a more professional foul:

Keane’s mood will have gone from bad to worse soon afterwards, as early in the second half he received another yellow and was sent off:

A replay showed the cynical nature of the WWE-style move, which on it’s own deserved a red:

With Keane leaving the pitch in disgrace, Ireland’s chances were suddenly slashed even more. Moments later it was settled – Hughes’ shot off the crossbar was knocked into the empty net by Ian Rush to make it 0-2 Wales:

Ireland go crashing out while the Welsh march on, with Hughes and man of the match Rush to thank:

Ireland 0 – 2 Wales

Trinidad and Tobago vs The Bahamas:

*THE IMAGE FILES FOR THIS MATCH WERE CORRUPTED AND LOST*

It was time for the island boys to take on the island boys with another derby, this time of the Caribbean variety. Despite Trinidad and Tobago’s superior football history, the Bahamas looked a better prospect on paper…

Unfortunately the teams took the field in similar kits, creating a bad clash. An early scramble nearly led to T&T taking the lead. But, very much against the run of play, Bahamas were able to take advantage of a similar situation to go 1-0 up right before half-time…

The second-half was running smoothly for them too, until T&T finally recovered near the end and were able to take advantage of yet another scramble to make it 1-1, thanks to the prowess of Nixon. With what would have been the last kick of the game, a last gasp Bahamas shot went agonisingly close…

Instead it was to be the first occurrence of extra-time in the cup, played under Golden Goal rules. The Bahamas would rue that missed chance at the end of regular time, as Trinidad and Tobago basically scored straight from kick-off through – you guessed it – a goalmouth scramble.

Golden Goal hero Dwarika was also awarded the man of the match award for his efforts. A date with the Welsh now awaits him and his teammates.

Trinidad and Tobago 2 – 1 (AET) The Bahamas

WALES PLAY TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO IN QUARTER FINAL

Puerto Rico vs Venezuela:

In the central vs south American clash next, Puerto Rico prepared to take on overwhelming favourites Venezuela:

On a lush pitch, the two kits created a vivid combination:

In a scoreless first half, Savarese – the man with four goals in the previous three games for Venezuela – came closest to breaking the deadlock, but was twice ruled off-side:

The second half was a similar affair and so extra-time was called for for the second game in a row:

The huge crowd, exhausted, watched on intently throughout:

The Venezuelans had the best of the chances, but the ‘keeper was on point:

pr-ven-5

And so, for the first time ever, it was to be a penalty shoot-out at the POTP Cup of Nations:

Puerto Rico went first, missing their opening two penalties thanks to a couple of excellent saves:

While Venezuela converted their first two:

A Puerto Rican goal then kept the contest alive:

But they missed their next – Venezuela progress. Goalkeeping hero Dudamel received the plaudits after the match:

Puerto Rico 0-0 (AET; 1-3 PEN) Venezuela

Nicaragua vs India:

Awaiting Venezuela would be the winner of the strange bedfellows match, as the geographically smaller Nicaragua faced the giant – but weak on the pitch – India:

The Indians, however, had bested Finland in group-stage-finale drama to progress at their expense, and were hopeful of another upset here to “Finnish-off” the second round too:

Sure enough, the two best chances of the half fell to the side from the sub-continent. But at half-time it remained 0-0:

Amazingly India continued to dominate after the break, with the ball rarely leaving the Nicaraguan half. Again there were goal-scoring opportunities, but none made good:

And so it was extra-time time again, and the drama immediately increased as Nicaragua’s star man Bermudez was quickly sent off for striking an opponent in the head:

As he walked off in shame, all those watching asked if this was to be another Keane situation:

With the two sides lacking in energy, extra-time was a mostly uneventful affair and penalties once were again needed. Things stayed evenly matched at first, with both sides scoring…:

…before both missing…:

..and then both scoring again:

However it was Nicargua who blinked first, as their next spot-kick went wide:

India then scored, putting the “minnows” on the brink of the last eight:

It all came down to this – Nicaragua needed to score or they were out. But it’s a save!:

Amazing scenes as India go through. Nicaraguan ‘keeper Orellana at least was recognised for his role in the epic sage with a man of the match award:

Nicaragua 0-0 (AET; 2-3 PEN) India

VENEZUELA PLAY INDIA IN QUARTER FINAL

***

The second round results, in full, are as follows:

Which gives us a mouthwatering quarter-finals draw: Japan take on USA in a World War 2 grudge match; Cuba play Australia in an all-island encounter; Trinidad and Tabago face the last European representative in Wales; and Venezuela provide more Latin American opposition for the surprise package so far in the competition, India:

*****

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s