POTP Cup of Nations Where Football Isn’t The Most Popular Sport #5: Quarter-Finals

We’re not going to lie, this tournament has been somewhat of an albatross around our neck and we deeply regret starting it. However, the POTP Cup must go on as we enter the quarter-finals. Click here for all previous rounds.

Quarter-Finals

As usual, here’s a recap of the previous stage to begin with:

So we have said goodbye to Latvia, Estonia, Panama, Canada, Ireland, The Bahamas, Puerto Rico and Nicaragua, leaving Japan to take on USA, Cuba against Australia, Wales vs Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela facing tournament surprise package India, for a place in the semis:

Japan vs USA

Japan had impressed so far winning all their games comfortably, with key man Kitazawa bagging 6 goals in his four appearances. The USA were slightly less on fire, having dropped points thanks to a draw against Nicaragua in the first round, but were considered the strongest of the two sides on paper:

Japan appeared in their traditional and regal blue, while the American’s had earned the nickname “Golden Eagles” at this competition for a reason:

Early on the US came close to opening the scoring:

But just before half-time, Yamaguchi struck inside the box for his first of the campaign to make it 1-0 Japan:

The ‘keeper accepted some of the responsibility, evident by his downtrodden body language as all his team mates stood and stared:

USA did have one other change following this foul:

The free-kick, however, came to nothing:

In the second-half Japan were happy to sit back and boguard their lead, which nearly backfired as the USA again came agonisingly close to drawing level near the end:

But the far-eastern outfit hung on to ensure that at least one Asian side would be in the final-four, while the Americans head home:

Japan 1-0 USA

Cuba vs Australia

Despite the USA’s exit, there would still be three chances for countries from the Americas to progress, starting with a Cuba who were heavy favourites in their match with Australia:

But oh no! When the teams emerged a horrible kit clash was revealed, with yellow only separated by the blue features of the Cubans and green of the Australians:

Thanks to the competition’s lax rules however (many officials were drunk and/or high throughout its duration), both strips stayed on.

Cuba had won all four of their games in the competition so far, only conceding once back during the opening round of fixtures against Canada. But within moments here they had conceded again, as Australia’s hit-man Trajanovski was able to toe-poke in a ball from the year box to make it 1-0:

Before half-time Trajanovski had done it again, this time slotting in from the other side of the box:

The Cubans needed something special to save their tournament and indeed thought they had gotten one back before the break, but the long range “thriker” of a shot from Ramos was expertly saved by Bosnich:

Early in the second, a foul and yellow card led to a beautiful Australian move that allowed Trajanovski space in the box. The shot was stopped but he easily passed in the rebound for his hat-trick:

With Cuba now mentally defeated, the game was put beyond reproach as that man Traj’ made it 4-0, in doing so scoring his 9th of the cup so far:

Cuba 0-4 Australia

***JAPAN PLAY AUSTRALIA IN SEMI-FINAL***

Wales vs Trinidad and Tobago

While Trinidad & Tobago were one of two Caribbean countries left at this stage, and one of four from the Americas total as mentioned earlier, in contrast Wales were the last remaining European team. The Welsh already claimed satisfactory victories over Cuba, Ireland and Canada, but the islanders had beaten the likes of Finland in the group stage, an over-achieving Bahamas in the second round, and held the record for highest amount of goals in a game so far after their 7-0 thrashing of Fiji:

But oh no again! Another kit clash, although not quite as bad as the previous match:

This game was fire right from the start, with wonder-boy Nixon opening the scoring for T&T nearly straight away:

The unfolding disaster for Wales compounded only minutes later, when Nixon double his count after an unorganised goalmouth scramble (as opposed to an organised scramble):

Heading towards half-time the encounter held all the hallmarks of a repeat of Cuba-Australia, but suddenly Rush appeared out of nowhere to latch on to a rebound and unleash an absolute dick-romper of a rocket past the ‘keeper:

2-1 at the break and the second-half looked set to be an absolute dick-romper. But the rest seemed to curb Wales’ new momentum if anything, as they looked more and more frustrated leading to yellow cards for both aging striking virtuosos Rush and Hughes:

And with minutes remaining, Dwarika skillfully maneuvered his way into the box to break Welsh hearts once and for all by making it 3-1:

Europe was officially gone. More importantly though, Trinidad & Tobago were through:

Wales 1 – 3 Trinidad & Tobago

Venezuela vs India

Going into the last match of the last 8, Venezuela were heavy favourites over India. But India had been underdogs in nearly every match and were still here, overcoming an opening day defeat at the hands of Trinidad & Tobago to shock Finland on Match Day 3, pipping them for progression and getting past Nicaragua on penalties in the round of 16:

Venezuela were also present thanks to a shoot-out win over Puerto Rico, but would have been the side here less enthusiastic about the game going to spot-kicks again. Coming out into the pouring rain, their kit was a rather pleasing blue and orange design, while the Indians looked resplendent in brilliant-white:

Early signs showed that India’s luck was a bout to run out, as a pass to nobody went for a throw-in:

Shortly afterwards, Venezuela casually played the ball up to an unmarked Savarese in the box who passed to a wide-open Garcia; all too easy it was 1-0:

Minutes later Garcia did it again, this time showing his quality with an unstoppable long-range strike:

To their credit, India came out after the break raring to go and should have pulled on back through Singh’s shot around the penalty spot:

But the Indian Summer was truly put to an when Garcia grabbed his hat-trick, with a much cooler finish:

India’s game was summed up a while later when a player was put through on goal, only to turn and play the ball back to a team-mate on the left wing, who played the ball out for a goal-kick. However they had done their country proud, as had Venezuela who were going to the semi-finals:

Venezuela 3 – 0 India

***TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO PLAY VENEZUELA IN SEMI-FINAL***

***

And so here are the brackets going into the mouthwatering semi-finals, where Japan will face Australia and Trinidad & Tobago take on Venezuela, coming soon here on PyroOnThePitch.com:

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