Samstag, 22. Juli 2017

Szekely Land 2

Unknown Player
vs. Ellan Vannin (4:2) | CONIFA European Football Cup 2017 in Northern Cyprus
One more shirt I got at the European Football Cup 2017 in Northern Cyprus, staged by CONIFA. This shirt came from the biggest surprise team of the tournament: Szekely Land.
The Szeklers started the tournament "as usual" - they lost against Felvidek, a team that often seems to be the worse of the two, but somehow manages to always win that derby of the Hungarian minorities.
That loss meant that the Szeklers needed to get points from matches vs. Padania and Ellan Vannin, who were seen as favorites by many. However, they managed to get through the group stage and gave the host Northern Cyprus a great challenge in the semis, before beating the current World Champion Abkhazia in the Bronze medal match.
The biggest star of the team was, by far, Barna Bajko, who lifted the best goalscorer trophy of the whole tournament with his 5 goals in 5 matches. Congratulations!
Thanks go out to Kristof Wenczel, the founder and manager of the Szekely Land FA, who brought the whole team to a completely new level compared to earlier displays in major tournament. If they continue like that, I am sure we will see them competing for more silverware soon.

Syria 2

Taha Alaek (Al Karamah U19)
vs. New Zealand U17 (0:0) | U17 WC 2015 in Chile

This time, my thanks go straight to Lattakia in Syria! My friend Dorian Marin, former coach of a Syrian Premier League (pre-war) is still "stuck" in the country as he doesn't want to leave back his (Syrian) family and migrate himself alone.
Currently, given the hard circumstances the country is going through, Dorian is making some additional money by selling football shirts of locals in Lattakia to collectors around the world. A few of them went over my table, but only now I could finally finance one for myself.
The shirt I got is from Naeim Ghazal Naem, who plays for Teshrin FC U19, the club Dorian used to coach on an adult level. Naeim wore this shirt in the Under-17 World Cup in Chile in 2015, where the team could only make a single point by a goalless draw vs. New Zealand and went out in the group stages.
Thanks again Dorian and all the best to your whole family!

South Ossetia

Unknown players
vs. Abkhazia (1:2) | CONIFA EFC 2017 in Northern Cyprus
This might only be a shirt of a country that isn't recognised by most countries in the world, but to me it is a very special unbranded horribly-quality polyester piece! When the football organization CONIFA, which I co-founded in 2013, had its initial World Football Cup in Sweden 2014 I got shirts of 11 of the 12 participating teams - but missed the shirt of the 4th ranked South Ossetians. Now, 3 years later, I finally got it from my good friend Sergey Zassejev, the sports, culture and youth minister of South Ossetia, whom I happened to meet 4 times by now. Sergey must be one of the nicest people on earth and I cannot await to finally visit him on his South Ossetian vineyard later this year!
The shirt itself is sporting a colourful and beautiful design in the Ossetian colours and is made by a local, North Ossetia based, company, but completely unbranded.
South Ossetia actually is not South Ossetia anymore, but decided in a recent referendum to re-brand the country into "South Ossetia-Alania" to refer to their Alan routes, a Caucasian tribe inhabiting the regions for centuries.

Again all my thanks to Sergey, spaßiba!

South Africa 2

Lucas Radebe (Leeds United | England)
vs. Zambia (3:0) | WC 1998 qualifier | 1997 in South Africa

My last South Africa shirt from the 2010 World Cup in their home country is a very special one to me, as it was one of the kickstarters of this insane collection. However, if we are all honest, this one pulverizes my Tshabalala shirt when it comes to style or significance.
The first time South Africa ever qualifier for a World Cup at all was in 1998, where they got hammered (3:0) by the host and later World Champion France and drew against Saudi Arabia and Denmark. The legendary shirt they wore in that World Cup was slightly different to the one I got, though, so mine has to be from the qualifiers.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to find out which player wore this very shirt, as the team changed their numbers every time. However, given that the shirt came from a scout in the German second division, it is likely that it was brought to Germany by Delron Buckley, who played in Bochum at the time.

Qatar 3

Again an absolutely amazing shirt of the former Fortuna Düsseldorf scout. It is surely matchworn and comes with stains of mud that stayed in place for many years now.
The shirt is an absolutely brilliant design, especially compared to all the dull ones Qatar sported lately. However, I completely failed to find a picture of this one in use. I am sure I saw one earlier, before I bought it, but cannot find it anymore. Can you help?

Northern Mariana Islands

Unknown Player
Northern Mariana Islands vs. CNMI All-Stars (1:4) | 2007 in NMI
Same match - backside of the shirts
Meet the champion of the bizarre shirts - a simple t-shirt printed for the first ever match of the Northern Mariana Islands national football team. I got this shirt from Steve Menary, a well known journalist, as a swap for a Cape Verde shirts many years ago. However, I always doubted that this is an actual football shirt.
Now, I met Steve in person and he reassured me that this is the match shirt worn in their first matches vs. Guam and that it is even matchworn. That inspired me to do some fact checking again and I could find out that this shirt was indeed worn! However, it is not the shirt used against Guam, which was sky blue, but was a celebration shirt for that event. In the preparation to the first ever national team match, the NMI national team did some matches locally, playing the CNMI All-Stars, where they indeed wore this shirt during a football match! So, I can count it in and absolutely love it!
Finally, I found it highly amusing that the Northern Mariana Islands national team lost 4-1 against a local "all-star team".

Northern Cyprus 2

Northern Cyprus national team
Silver Medal Ceremony | CONIFA Euros 2017
Just a few months ago, in June 2017, I went to Northern Cyprus for the first time in my life to co-organize the CONIFA European Football Cup, which was staged there. The tournament broke the longlasting sportingly isolation the international community dictated on the Northern part of the island. In fact, the first match of the tournament was also the first international football match played in Northern Cyprus since the ELF Cup in 2011!
I had an incredible time in Kyrenia and was able to visit all tournament stadiums - Kyrenia, Güzelyürt, Nicosia and Famagusta - over the week. If you ever have a chance to go to Cyprus, whichever part, take it!
Sportingly, the host made it to the grand final in Nicosia, where they lost to Padania on penalties.
Over the week, I wore my older Northern Cyprus shirt a couple of times over the day, which the manager of the national team couldn't accept. He insisted on giving me the new shirt, which in fact is much more sophisticated and beautiful. So, thanks KTFF!