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ConIFA WFC Final: Northern Cyprus 0-0 Karpatalja (2-3 on pens) @ Queen Elizabeth II Stadium, Enfield.


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Three penalty saves from Bela Csongor meant Karpatalja won the ConIFA World Football Cup with a victory over Northern Cyprus in a packed Enfield crowd. 

Demand from spectators meant the kick-off was delayed for 30 minutes, in the meantime, a group of dancers entertained the crowd as tension built while the main stand became inaccesible due to overcrowding and the turnstiles shut. 

An overwhelming proportion of the crowd were Cypriots, though the supporters of Szekely Land remained after their third-place play-off defeat to Padania to put their support behind their fellow ethnic Hungarians in Karpatalja. The fans continued with their signature flags creating a wall of colour behind the goal during the warm-up.

The display would continue at points during the match, contributing to the vibrant atmosphere. When the two sides met for the opening group game, the tie finished 1-1 and the first half was once more incredibly even.

The majority of the play was bogged down in midfield. Both teams worked tremendously hard and just could not cancel one another out. It was to be Karpatalja who had the only real opportunity of the half with Kozman having a shot intercepted and cleared off the line.

The second half was to be more open but neither team could find the back of the net. Ahmet Sonmez had a header spectacularly tipped over the bar by Csongor. Minutes later, Gyorgy Toma weaved his way from the Cypriot back-line, somehow retaining possession and laying off to Sandor who found Alex Svedjuk.

Svedjuk who scored when the sides met in the group stage forced a strong sprawling save from Hasan Giro. Karpatalja went forward with intent and looked like they were going to score every time they ventured forward. Fine defending to match energetic play was present in both halves, but the game appeared to edge towards Northern Cyprus when Arif Usyal came on as a substitute. 

Using his trickery and pace against tired legs, Usyal produced the clearest chances of the game for both teams. First Billy Mehmet's downward header hit the bar before Halil Turan headed wide and then over from close range too. The goal scoring ability that had propelled the team to the final from Mehment and Turan had begun to desert them, cruelly when they needed it most. Usyal went down in the box but referee Mark Clattenburg was not interested.

The Northern Cyprus team played the price for those missed chances in the penalty shootout. The penalties were taken in front of the end with Northern Cyprus fans, who made plenty of noise for the Karpataljans but were silent and encouraging for their own players.

Mehmet and Kurt would both have their penalties saved, giving Sandor the chance to win it. He hit his penalty against the post before a save from Hasan Giro put the shootout score at 2-2. With Karpatalja scoring that fifth penalty, it was down to Halil Turan to take the penalty to sudden death. He shot low to the keeper's right but Csongor was equal to it, winning the final for Karpatalja.  

The Northern Cyprus fans to their credit clapped their victors as the Karpatalja team partied into the night.

All teams in the tournament were paraded before Csongor lifted the trophy and led the Hungarian fans in emotional and passionate chanting. Karpatalja, of course, only entered the tournament after Felvidek's late withdrawal, but they took their chance when it mattered, overcoming some tough teams to be crowned world champions. 

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