Sunday, 10 June 2018

09/06/18 Review: Tibet vs United Koreans in Japan

Tibet 1-1 United Koreans in Japan (CONIFA World Cup, 11th/12th Placement Match)
St Paul's Sports Ground

The final day of the CONIFA World Cup meant that it would be last chance to check out a new ground and as it isn't often I'm in Central London I thought I'd see what St Paul's Sports Ground in Southwark, just south of the Thames and a over the river from Isle of Dogs and Millwall- whose Lionesses side play here alongside Fisher FC of the Southern Counties League Premier. Today's match in Rotherhithe would be to decide who takes home the 11th place accolade and it would be competed by two Asian outfits whom I'd already seen in the tournament before, Tibet and the United Koreans in Japan.

Goals not guaranteed here
Although this one would surprisingly produce the highest amount of goals I'd see across three matches on the Saturday and it was arguably the most flowing game of the day, I wasn't holding too much pre-match hope as I'd seen both sides play so far knowing that UKJ, despite only losing one game in the whole tournament, had only scored one goal to this point aside from their five against Tuvalu. I had seen that goal, a stoppage time Su Hyeon Mun thunderbolt against Panjab in Slough, but didn't expect them to knock in too many against a nothing if not exciting Tibetan squad. My sole experience of them so far had been from the same day of football as seeing the Koreans, and the Mount Everest men lost 1-5 to Kárpátalya despite putting up a decent fight against the Finalists. I arrived at St Paul's just 15 minutes before kickoff and was fairly impressed with the ground that had opened its gates to the World Cup today. The quaint and modernised facility is nestled in the heart of the capital and has a picturesque view of London's banking industry overlooking the bordering greenery- certainly one that looks in glorious form under the sun-kissed blue skyline.

The 2009 formed club must be chuffed with their setup
My prediction was for a one-goal game in this one and due to their impressive tactical play I decided to side with the United Koreans as the match began. Tibet kicked things off, playing from left to right but within the first minute the opening chance would fall to their opposition. Tong Soung Lee, of Staines Town's youth team, took his early strike well but it went just past the post of Sangye Gyatso on this occasion. Watch out, this is gonna become a recurring theme. UKJ would continue to show early intentions of scoring and after Monroe Mustangs player Yoo Jun Kang had a shot, we would then see Captain Min Cheol Son test Sangye with a free-kick. Already Tibet were looking like a goal would have to come sooner rather than later and on the 20th minute surely enough they would get their wish as Tenzin Yougyal finished off a very nice tiki-taka style play just inside of Hyo Geum Lim's post. Tibet 1-0 UKJ. Although Tibet almost doubled their lead just after scoring, the play would eventually settle back into it being all in the United Korean's favour and after Yong Ju Shin rounded Sangye he had the goal at his mercy, only to hit a tame finish which was initially blocked before five players including the scrambling keeper got involved in a goal-line pile-on that led to the Ref blowing. Further chances would come and go for UKJ from pretty much every build-up move in the book, but the game went into half-time with Tibet's fans in higher spirits than even more usual.

Well done, team Tibet
I ummed and ahhed about a brew but with a poor mixture of shrapnel in my pocket and a lack of enthusiasm to drink a hot drink on this sweltering day I settled on an OJ squash carton and some fresh flapjack to settle my half-time hankering. Whilst in the queue I did hear some disgusted fans checking that they'd heard right when a staff member said that there was no alcohol on site for today's game, but with a long day ahead for once Pint of Football wasn't too disappointed not to be sampling the local beer.

My new Blog name, "OJ and Flapjack of Football"
I took up the quiet corner of the ground as the second-half commenced, but it didn't stay unpopulated for too long as the sides started to arrive for the 3pm game. First up the American-Canadians from Cascadia began to pile into St Paul's and as they surrounded me I soon became a listener of their commentary as UKJ continued their march for an equaliser. The North Americans were soon discussing how they were amazed to be witnessing the Koreans playing in such a low-ranked placement match, having clearly seen enough to be impressed with their tactical and footballing skills. It is true that the UKJ side were very good footballers and on play alone perhaps one of the top four in the competition, but if you cannot score goals then you will not get anywhere near the medals. As the game entered the final 20 minutes the Cascadian players, of whom a fair chunk are based in the UK, got chatting about the real perk of being a footballer- the chance of being on Football Manager or even FIFA! As one guy reminisced about his season with Dagenham & Redbridge as a 49 rating player, another told the tale of how he wished he earned as much as what his wages were in the most recent edition of FM. On the field, UKJ had gone a bit closer and struck the bar through Tong Jun Lee.

Why hello there
With now just 6 minutes left it was looking like for Korea to score they would have to rely on a miracle, or a Tibetan own goal! Thankfully for Yong Hak An the latter would be enough from a set-piece and as a header ricocheted about in the six-yard box it would eventually land in the net and set us up for a penalty shootout. Tibet 1-1 UKJ. The shootout started well for UKJ as Min Cheol Son scored, as did Kalsang Topgyal before going into the Ref's book for his topless celebrating. That would be as good as it got for Tibet though and as Yong Ju Shin and Sun Ji Kim both slotted home, Hyo Geum Lim saved two Tibetan strikes, meaning that with a 3-1 advantage all that Staines' youngster Tong Sound Lee had to do was finish things off. The delay for him to hit the ball seemed like hours, but the 19-year old had the balls to do the job and he scored the winning penalty to seal a decent end for the Koreans. I couldn't stick around too long with the 3rd/4th Playoff just over an hour away Enfield, so I followed my oh too familiar route back to the car ready to get my foot down and head to the tournament's biggest two matches. Next up, Padania versus Székely Land for the bronze medal!

11th Place finish for UKJ

No comments:

Post a Comment