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Monday, August 10, 2020

CORONA VIRUS TIMES: MADE OF STEEL


As everyone knows, the advent of the Corona virus, COVID-19, call it what you will, has, to some extent, meant a sudden change in behaviour for most people across the world. On a more positive note, it has also led to an explosion of activity on Twitter and an expansion of football knowledge for many, not least of all your correspondent. Many of the world's smaller clubs, teams you most probably would never have heard of, have established themselves to some extent on Twitter over the past few months, and this short series aims to give some of them a little profile away from social media.
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In an era when football has become global, when the big names have taken over the circus and pushed the smaller clubs outside the tent, it is all too easy to forget that football at a local level exists, and, in some areas, is thriving. One positive aspect of the Corona virus is that lockdown has increased the visibility of the smaller clubs on social media, and, on Twitter at least, has led to many clubs interacting, getting to know each other and forging on-line friendships. A number have garnered hundreds, or indeed, thousands of followers over the past few months, whilst some tend to let Twitter nature take its course.


One of the former is based in one of the USA's footballing heartlands, the blue-collar region on the country's eastern seaboard to the south of New York. Steel FC, based in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, were only founded in 2015 yet have become something of a success story, albeit one which has, until now, very much flown under the radar.





The club takes part in the Greater Pittsburgh Soccer League (GPSL), which involves around twenty teams spread across three divisions, and plays many of its home matches at the Cool Springs Sports Complex in the city's Bether Park district.  (There is also a Women's GPSL system, which is split into an Open women's league and an over-23 women's league.)

They started off on the lowest rung of the GPSL ladder, the Miners' League, in 2015, but gained promotion to the second division, the Champions Division, that year. They won that in 2017 and have been playing in the Premier Division since then, improving steadily as they go along, delighting manager Brian Luchini, who has been with Steel FC right from the start - in fact, he founded the club:


"I decided to form Steel FC because a team I put together that played in local leagues was looking for a more competitive soccer scene. The Greater Pittsburgh Soccer League offered that, so [Steel FC was founded and] we joined. Through the years, between making cuts and recruiting other players, I have been able to put a successful squad on the field.

"I have been very pleased with the way my team has been playing. 2020 is our third year competing in the Premier Division. Our first year we took fourth place in the standings with a record of eight wins and six defeats [during the regular season] but made it to the final and finished runners-up. This past year we took second in the standings with 10 wins, 3 draws and 1 defeat, and again came runner-up in the final. Now as a top competitor in the best division in Pittsburgh, the Premier Division, we strive to win the championship each year."


Steel FC haven't just concentrated on maintaining top-level status and improving on that since their rise to the Premier Division. They have also taken part in cup competitions over the past twelve months or so, including what was once the most prestigious competition in American football, the US Open Cup, and gave a very good account of themselves.


"We competed in the USASA Amateur Cup and for our first time competing, we got to the Region One final by beating [Baltimore side] Christos FC and Philadelphia Lonestar, losing to eventual overall champion, Newtown Pride [the team from Connecticut won the regional title in June of last year before beating Houston-based Horizon FC to win the overall competition and qualify directly for the 2020 US Open Cup].


"We also participated in the Open Cup this past year and made it to the 3rd qualifying round beating Germantown City [another team hailing from Maryland] and Tartan Devils. One more win and we would’ve been in the tournament proper, but we lost 3-2 down in Maryland to Christos FC. Again, for our first time in this competition I think we did very well and I couldn’t be more proud of my squad."





But why the name Steel FC? Luchini, who is not only the team manager but also the coach and the man behind the club's prolific social media drive - like so many other clubs, they have taken part in virtual cup competitions and such like during the Corona virus crisis to keep themselves occupied and, in their case, to spread the word about Steel FC - gave a concise and clear explanation for the choice of name: "Our team name is exactly what it stands for, Steel. Pittsburgh is a hardworking, blue-collar, town with a rich history of steel mills. That’s where Steel FC comes from. It’s a simple name that clearly shows our roots."


But, success doesn't come easy for any club, and it is the case for every club, whether it has money behind it or no; for Steel FC and most of the clubs in the GPSL, it is a matter of them scraping by as best they can. The city's highest-ranked club, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, plays in the Eastern Conference of the USL, the second tier of America's football pyramid. It is, however, hard for clubs lower down the ladder to attract football-lovers to local-league games, and harder still to build up a fan-base, as Luchini readily admits.


"In Pittsburgh there is barely a lower league following. While this does hinder us, it also is an opportunity for us to show what we are made of and hopefully attract fans along the way. The best way to get involved is to come to games and meet the team and our players. We also really appreciate any jersey purchases or merchandise purchases. All money helps go towards funding. Because we are not sponsored, my players pay for everything out of pocket. Purchases [of merchandise - the club does a natty line in scarves, for example] help us pay for our 2020 GPSL season along with the costs of competing in regional and national tournaments."


But, all preparations for the new season had to be put on hold due to the Corona virus taking hold across America, and Pittsburgh was also affected by events, the city itself being placed under lockdown. However, it hasn't stopped Luchini working on behalf of his club off the pitch. The club has been heavily involved in various online competitions, and this hasn't all been about getting exposure and gaining more followers on Twitter, but about keeping the club afloat financially, looking for sponsors and selling club apparel via Twitter. The club has also been keeping itself in the public eye by giving away scarves and stickers, and has now reached a healthy 1300 followers.


Luchini: "We are still on the hunt for sponsors as we do not have any currently. With Covid, and most businesses geared towards youth, it's hard to find a sponsor in Pittsburgh. We would absolutely love a company come on board and partner with them.


"Online, I have been exhausting all efforts to get the team some recognition in hopes of finding a season sponsor. We competed in the Non-League Hub Twitter event where we took 3rd out of 64 teams, and we also competed in Smallworld Soccer & Lower League USA's Twitter event and came in 2nd out of 64 teams who entered, so not bad!"


Steel FC's new all-black kit has also proven to be a bit of a hit with shirt-collectors, and the club's new badge, which was unveiled earlier this year, is a homage to its home city, as Luchini explains: "The badge represents Pittsburgh. The triangular shape represents the Monogahela River, the Allegheny River and where those two rivers meet to form the Ohio River at The Point. The black and gold are the main colours of Pittsburgh. The stars are a nod from our old design, while the blue and white chequered pattern is taken from the City of Pittsburgh flag."


Meanwhile, on the pitch, like most clubs the world over, Steel FC has been affected by the Corona virus, but the players are finally starting to get back into some sort of routine and, as well as playing a couple of friendlies during June and July, the club also hosted its own Steel City Super Cup tournament for the first time during the first weekend of August, reaching the semi-finals where they lost to fellow Pittsburgh team LaComarca Arsenal on penalties.


"The team has been training individually since the lockdown", said Luchini at the end of July. "However, since restrictions have been semi-lifted, some of my players have resumed their club coaching and private training duties. Additionally, we have entered a Friday night recreation league to keep getting touches on the ball and for fitness before our GPSL season starts back up."

 
Their GPSL has indeed kicked off, and began on 9 August with a 1:1 draw against LaComarca Arsenal, which was followed a week later with a 4:2 friendly win against Appalachia FC63. Last Sunday, they recorded a resounding 11:1 win against Monongahela United in their second GPSL game: christian Lewandowski scored four goals, whilst team-mate Brandon Siringer bagged himself a hat-trick.

In spite of the fact that it is difficult to get the team to train together due to the players' various work commitments and, more recently, the lockdown, the team has done remarkably well over the last couple of years. Luchini remains thoroughly positive about the future and admiring of his charges and their will to succeed.


"The future of this team is very bright. Because all my players have 9-to-5 jobs, we are unable to practice on a consistent basis. However, we show up for Sunday games and take the matches seriously. Because the team consists of college graduates, former D1 and USL players, we know how to be successful despite no training and that shows from our records and tournament results. We will continue to be successful and are always finding new players to help strengthen the squad. The main inspiration we have to keep on going and to become elite is because we want to win."


STEEL FC SQUAD 2020-21 (correct as of 01/01/20)


GOALKEEPERS: 1 Keaton JENNINGS, 28 Brendan BIRMINGHAM, 85 Spencer WOLFE

DEFENDERS: 2 Matt BISCHOFF, 5 Al ABEDIAN, 8 Kevin MURRAY, 12 Thomas EDELMANN, 17 Ethan SHULA, 21 Matt McDYER, N/K Evan AGUSTINE

MIDFIELDERS: 4 Ramsey HARTLEY, 6 Rob HEULER, 7 Will MESZAR, 9 Lewis OSBOURNE, 10 Christian LEWANDOWSKI, 11 Craig BARR, 22 Brandon SIRINGER, 25 Alex LIGETI, 80 Nick KOLARAC

FORWARDS: 15 Navid KAZEM, 16 Dimitrije SLAVKOVIC, 20 Lamine BALDE, N/K Jesse SCHEIRER


STEEL CITY SUPER CUP


This tournament, hosted by Steel FC, was the first edition of what the club hopes will become an annual event, and took place over the weekend of 1-2 August in the small Pennsylvanian village of Russelton.
Eight teams took part in the tournament, during which 60-minute matches were played, with no extra-time during the knockout stages; games would go straight to penalties.


Eight teams took part, though the line-up differed somewhat from that envisaged when details of the tournament first emerged. Pittsburgh outfits Tartan Devils and Pittsburgh Hotspurs were forced to scratch in the run-up to the tournament, and their places were taken by LaComarca Arsenal and LMFC Royals. (It should be noted that West Virginian side Appalachia FC63 were only founded a few weeks ago and the tournament was their first run-out.) Livonia City's long trip from Michigan was made worthwhile by their beating LaComarca Arsenal in the final.


GROUP A

Steel FC (hosts); Deportivo Club de Districtonia (Washington DC); Livonia City (Livonia, Michigan); NNK (Westmoreland, Virginia)


GROUP B

Appalachia FC63 (Fairmont, West Virginia); Inter Detroit (Detroit); LaComarca Arsenal (Pittsburgh); LMFC Royals (Pittsburgh)


RESULTS


GROUP A


Livonia City 2:1 Steel FC
Livonia City 6:0 NNK
Steel City 2:1 Deportivo Club de Districtonia
Steel City 6:0 NNK
Livonia City 7:0 Deportivo Club de Districtonia
Deportivo Club de Districtonia 2:0 NNK


TEAM

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

PTS

GD

LIVONIA CITY

3

3

0

0

15

1

9

14

STEEL FC

3

1

0

1

9

3

7

6

DC de Districtonia

3

1

0

1

3

9

3

-5

NNK

3

0

0

3

0

14

0

-14


GROUP B


LaComarca Arsenal 1:0 LMFC Royals
LMFC Royals 2:2 Appalachia FC63
LaComarca Arsenal 1:0 Inter Detroit
LaComarca Arsenal 1:1 Appalachia FC63
Inter Detroit 1:3 LMFC Royals
Appalachia FC63 2:2 Inter Detroit



TEAM
P
W
D
L
GF
GA
PTS
GD
LACOMARCA ARSENAL
3
2
1
0
3
1
7
2
LMFC ROYALS
3
1
1
1
5
4
4
1
Appalachian FC63
3
0
3
0
5
5
3
0
Inter Detroit
3
0
1
2
3
6
1
-3




SEMI-FINALS


Livonia City 2:1 LMFC
LaComarca Arsenal 0:0 Steel FC (LaComarca Arsenal 7:6 on pens)


FINAL


Livonia City 3:0 LaComarca Arsenal


STEEL FC 2020 GPSL AUTUMN SEASON FIXTURE-LIST/RESULTS


09/08/20 Steel FC 1:1 LaComarca Arsenal
16/08/20 Steel FC 4:2 Appalachia FC63*
23/08/20 Steel FC 11:1 Monongahela United
30/08/20 Steel FC : NH Waluigis
13/09/20 HNK Croatia Pittsburgh : Steel FC
20/09/20 Steel FC : Richmond County FC*
27/09/20 Steel FC : HNK Croatia FC
04/10/20 Steel FC : Plum Mustangs FC
18/10/20 Steel FC : Phoenix FC
25/10/20 Plum Mustangs FC : Steel FC
01/11/20 TBC
08/11/20 TBC
15/11/20


*Friendly






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AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many thanks to Steel FC manager Brian Luchini for his assistance with this article. Other sources of information include the Steel FC (www.steelfcsoccer.com) and Pennsylvania West Soccer (www.pawest-soccer.org) websites, Twitter,and Facebook. One or two details are still incomplete, but will hopefully be added at a later date.


Saturday, July 11, 2020

GREENLAND - REVIEW OF 2019: N-48 TRIUMPH AT LAST

The concluding stages of the 2019 Greenlandic men's national championship will be remembered for a number of things. To begin with, the tournament was the first to be played under the "Final 6" moniker, which refers to the number of teams competing in the tournament, down four from 2018, when ten teams took part. It was also the first time that the final stages of the national championship took place in the small town of Sisimiut, situated some 200 miles (320 kilometres in new money) north of Greenland's capital, Nuuk, since the community gained a full-size artificial pitch, replete with a surround fence, in 2018. There were more firsts, but more on them later.


It was far from the first time, though, that the national get-together was described in the foreign media as Greenland's football season in one week, an incorrect one-liner which has been increasingly repeated for a number of years now and has become something of an urban myth. The outdoor football season in Greenland normally begins in May with a plethora of regional competitions for the country's male and female footballers, both young and not-so-young, which are part of the national championships and serve as qualifying tournaments for the final tournaments.


As well as friendly matches, other tournaments take place which are not qualifying tournaments, such as the City Cup, which is contested by teams from Nuuk. There is also a separate three-tier business league system in Nuuk which runs until the end of September; this normally features a large number of players who have been involved in the national championships finals a few weeks earlier.


Through to the finals of the fifty-seventh Greenlandic championship - the forty-ninth edition since the old GBU was set up in 1971 - from the mid-Greenland regional championship were holders and perennial favourites B-67, who had finished runners-up in the qualifiers to 2017 winners IT-79, who themselves finished third in the 2018 GM, and surprise package GSS. The latter had hugely surpassed their own expectations; they won the last of their four GBU/KAK national titles back in 1976 (in addition to their national title dating from 1958, when football in Greenland was run by the GIF, the national sports governing body), and hadn't even qualified for a final tournament since then. The other two teams in the regional qualifiers, which were held in Nuuk, were fellow Nuuk side NÛK, and Sisimiut's FC Aasamiut, who would be hosting the national finals regardless of whether or not they actually qualified.


There were a few twists and turns during the qualifying tournament, not least when IT-79 defeated B-67 and in turn lost to NÛK, but the biggest surprises took place in the last round of matches. Regardless of the final day's results, IT-79, who had received a bye, were already through to the final tournament in Sisimiut. A further two places were up for grabs, and NÛK needed to beat FC Aasamiut, who had lost all three of their previous games, to take one of them, but surprisingly lost by the odd goal in seven. B-67 were expected to soundly beat GSS - who had beaten the team from Sisimiut but had lost narrowly to NÛK and 7:0 to IT-79 - but, in perhaps the most surprising result in Greenlandic football in years, lost by three goals to two.


The final round of results meant that B-67, NÛK and GSS all finished level on six points; normally, goal difference would be used, and that would have seen B-67 and NÛK progress, the latter by just one goal. However, the head-to-head results process was used, and this saw B-67 finish runners-up to IT-79, and, remarkably, little old GSS qualify for the finals for the first time in forty years. Meanwhile, there were no surprises to report from the other three regional tournaments; Eqaluk-54 qualified from the southern regional competition, Nagdlúnguak-48 eased past Kugsak-45 and T-41 to top the Disko Bay regional group, whilst G-44, not unexpectedly, took top spot in the northern region.


The final tournament began on 5 August, and it was the first time since 1994 that six teams took part in the finals, and the first time since 1986 that there would be only one single group. Once again, no team from East Greenland took part in the final stages of the GM, mainly due to financial constraints (although there was, apparently, a regional tournament). it also began without reigning champions B-67, who had endured problems with their flight being delayed due to the weather, ensuring that they would arrive in Sisimiut too late for their opening-day clash with N-48. They did eventually arrive..by chartered boat, and the game against N-48 was rescheduled for the day before the final.


B-67 were missing Greenlandic football's poster boy Ari Hermann, who had sadly suffered a serious cruciate ligament injury in the run-up to the tournament, and he would be sorely missed, not just by his team-mates, but by one and all. (At the time of writing, Hermann was still recovering from the injury and would have been unlikely to take part in this year's tournament if held.)


IT-79, whose own talisman, Hans-Karl Berthelsen, was also absent from their squad due to personal issues, and Eqaluk-54 kicked off the tournament in front of a sparse crowd, most of whom were safely behind the fencing, which, so later reports suggested, was erected to stop snowmobiles from flying around the pitch during the winter months and causing irreparable damage to the new artificial surface. But on a sunny day in August, the main danger for most of the first half was not to the pitch, but to any birds flying over either goal due to the amount of wayward shots from the two teams going anywhere but near their intended target.


IT-79's Jakob Fleischer showed everybody how it should be done in the 40th minute when he latched on to Julius Motzfeldt's perfect ball through the Eqaluk defence and lofted the ball over goalkeeper Innunguaq Geronne and into the back of the net to give the Students the lead. Motzfeldt added a second five minutes after half-time, when Fleischer returned the compliment, and his shot from outside the penalty-area was fumbled over the goal-line by Geronne. IT-79 coasted through the remainder of the second half as Eqaluk threatened from time to time, but their shooting and final passes left something to be desired.


They did pull a goal back in the last minute of normal time when IT-79 keeper Malik Mikaelsen cannoned his clearance off the onrushing Minik Stephensen and on to his own crossbar; the Eqaluk man was first to the ball and headed it into the empty net. In between times, Geronne went outfield, as his place in goal was taken by a substitute goalkeeper and a team-mate was taken off, and the substitute was picking the ball out of the net in the 92nd minute. Another accurate ball from Fleischer found Nikku Mathiassen in space out on the right; he ran into the penalty-area and beat the substitute at his near post to restore IT-79's two-goal advantage.


The second game of the opening day featured G-44 and GSS, who had not so much upset the apple-cart in qualifying as tore it apart and were just happy to have qualified for the Final 6. The underdogs' first appearance at a finals in some forty years didn't get off to a great start with two injuries in the first twenty minutes. Things got worse after thirty-five minutes, when John-Ludvig Broberg chested the ball down on the left-hand side of GSS' penalty area, cut inside, beat two defenders and shot low and hard from fifteen yards into the bottom corner of the net to give G-44 the lead.


It took barely three minutes for G-44 to double their lead when Ittukusuk Isaksen led the defence a merry dance, collecting the ball thirty yards from goal, effortlessly going past a defender, stumbling past another and still managing to chip the ball over goalkeeper Tiga Larsen with defenders encroaching on him from all sides. But, the underdogs from the capital found a way back into the match in first-half injury-time. The G-44 defence switched off en-masse and decided to ball-watch as the ball was swung in from a corner, and Kuutaq Olsen had the honour of scoring GSS' first goal at a men's national championship for over four decades when he beat the normally reliable Knud Brandt to the ball and simply nodded it across the face of goal into the far corner.


With G-44 raining shots down on the GSS goal almost from the start of the second half, Isaksen almost restored their two-goal advantage on the hour mark, but he headed a perfect cross from Mika Davidsen against the outside of the post and wide with no-one near him just outside the six-yard box. Mads Andersen did double his side's lead again in the 64rd minute, stylishly dispatching a shot into Larsen's top right-hand corner from the edge of the box with time to spare after Davidsen's pin-point pass. Broberg scored again for G-44 less than two minutes later, after yet another pass from Davidsen (which was cleverly left by Inooraq Olrik), threading the ball through a packed penalty-area and into the net.


G-44 stretched their lead still further with less than twenty minutes left, and it was the sort of goal which every goalkeeper fears conceding. Larsen passed the ball straight to Jan Jensen, who was standing just outside the GSS box, and he rounded the keeper and stroked the ball into the empty net.


GSS pulled a goal back in the 77th minute after a one-two between Lars Ole Olsen and Malik Jeremiassen led to the former squaring the ball to Aqqalu Sandgreen, who tapped the ball over the goal-line just ahead of defender Danny Mølgaard. The goal came at a cost to Sandgreen; a split-second after he made contact with the ball, he was scythed down by a despairing lunge from Mølgaard, was flipped into the air and landed sickeningly on his back. After a few minutes' treatment, he was eventually substituted. It also came at a cost to Mølgaard; partly thanks to the protestations of GSS' Kuutaq Olsen, he was given his second yellow card of the match, the first red card of GM2019 and the opportunity to go for an early shower.


Perhaps a little ironically, Olsen was himself booked with five minutes left when he fouled Isaksen in the penalty-area, denying him a goalscoring opportunity. John-Ludvig Broberg left the goalkeeper standing as he coolly knocked the ball into the bottom left-hand corner for his hat-trick.


The first fixture on day two was one to look forward to: Nagdlünguak-48 versus IT-79. As one would expect, it was competitive from the word go, but the team from Ilulissat got their noses in front after 34 minutes when, after a couple of botched attempts to clear the ball from inside the IT-79 penalty-area, the ball fell to Nick Reimer just inside the 18-yard line, and his volley beat Minik Mikaelsen, who got a hand to the ball but couldn't prevent it from careering over the line. The first half meandered to a close with N-48 well on top and deserving of more than a one-goal lead.


Early in the second-half, IT-79's claims that the ball struck Kaali Lund Mathæussen on the arm in the penalty-area were ignored as goalkeeper Gabriel Petersen spectacularly got to and cleared the resulting loose ball just ahead of Leif Eskildsen. Down the other end, IT-79 had a lucky escape of their own on the hour, when Mathæussen somehow managed to avoid decapitating anyone, friend or foe, with a half-volley from eight yards out that smashed against the crossbar.


Not many people get the better of N-48 talisman Markus Jensen, but Gedion Kleist did just that just two minutes later in scoring IT-79's equaliser; he chested down a free-kick just outside the six-yard box, backed into Jensen, swivelled and scuffed a shot which looped into the bottom corner to set off wild celebrations in the pink-clad camp. With twenty minutes to go, N-48 re-took the lead at the end of a quick-fire move involving Nick Reimer and Peter Leibhardt, who squared the ball inside the area to Lars-Erik Reimer, who, with only Mikaelsen to beat, made no mistake with a shot from seven yards out.


With twelve minutes left and with the Students on the back foot, Nick Reimer played the ball into the penalty-area towards Søren Kreutzmann, who shimmied his way past two defenders with one sway of the hips and belted the ball into the top right-hand corner, and that was that.


Day two's big match between G-44 and defending champions B-67 was first on the bill, and G-44 were out for revenge, having been on the wrong end of a 10:1 scoreline the last time the two teams met, at last year's championship. They certainly got off to the perfect start, John-Ludvig Broberg putting them ahead against his old club after just 81 seconds with a flick high and wide of Brian Rosing Kleist in the B-67 goal. The lead lasted until the 28th minute, when Niels Svane equalised from the penalty-spot after Nukappi Kristiansen's run into the penalty-area was abruptly ended by Mads Andersen.
 


One would normally expect B-67 to kick on from that and go on to win the match, but they hadn't set Mid-Greenland alight during the qualifiers, and failed to really trouble Knud Brandt for the remainder of the first half, despite enjoying the lion's share of possession. They almost went behind nine minutes into the second half when Rosing Kleist had a sudden rush of blood to the head and fouled Ittukusuk Isaksen in the penalty-area; it was less than probable that Isaksen would score, as he failed to really keep the ball under control and he was being chased by one defender whilst two more were scampering back to cover the goal-line. Having been booked for his misdemeanour, the keeper made amends by superbly getting down to parry away John-Ludvig Broberg's penalty.



Three minutes later, the wheels really came off for the G-44 number nine when he was sent off for a second bookable offence after helping Morten Gade Nystrup on his way with a subtle push which was noticed by the referee. Suddenly, having missed a penalty and then going down to ten men, losing their star forward in the process, in the space of three minutes, things were not looking so rosy in the G-44 garden. They almost went in front with four minutes left, however, when B-67's Patrick Oteri Frederiksen inadvertently deflected a cross on to his own post with Rosing Kleist beaten.


B-67 themselves almost took the lead in the first minute of injury-time, but Knut Brandt foiled both Frederiksen and Kent Jeremiassen in quick succession. A draw was probably the right result; both teams had plenty of the ball but did relatively little with it. Broberg's dismissal left G-44 rather short of options thereafter, while B-67 were good up until the final third and then lost their way.


Next up were Eqaluk-54 and GSS, neither of whom were expected to figure in the scrap for a place in the final. Eqaluk struck early. Very early, in fact. The bandana-wearing Rafael Semsen's inswinging corner evaded goalkeeper Tiga Larsen's flap-cum-wave at the ball and curled into the back of the net after just 46 seconds. Bastian Rosing almost added a second soon after, but his toe-poke past Larsen rolled agonisingly just past the post. Larsen's counterpart at the other end, Kilaasi Ludvigsen, saved well from Lars Ole Olsen a few minutes later, and again from Hans Brummerstedt, but his team ruled the early exchanges despite not really threatening Larsen's goal.


It took until the thirty-second minute for Eqaluk to get another shot on target, when Isak Titussen burst through on the right and forced Larsen to save at his near post; however, Titussen managed to squeeze the rebound past Larsen and into the net to extend Eqaluk's lead.


Arne Simonsen added a third two minutes after the restart, and it was basically the same pattern of events as Isaksen's early goal in the first half: Simonsen delivered a cross into the box from the left-hand side, which was, to say the least, rather inaccurate, but it swung wildly and caught out Larsen, who vainly attempted to reach the ball, before dropping into the net at the far post.


The GSS goalkeeper was probably thinking at that stage that it wasn't going to be his day, and if anything, it got worse. Bernhardt Simonsen ran onto a loose ball some 25 yards from goal and hit it first time. It looked for all the world that it would fly just over the crossbar, but Larsen, who was standing about 15 yards from his own goal, got both hands to it, slowing the ball down as it then dipped into the bottom corner of his net.


Larsen was beaten again after 68 minutes, when Inunnguaq Geronne intercepted a poor clearance from a defender, pounced on a loose ball and side-footed it into the net to Larsen's left with the goalkeeper flailing. GSS almost pulled a goal back, but Sandgreen was denied by Ludvigsen, and Olsen's follow-up was blocked on the line by Poul Semsen at the second attempt.


Malik Jeremiassen did eventually get GSS off the mark with four minutes left; Hans Brummerstedt put in a good run on the right and reached the goal-line before pulling the ball back to Jeremiassen, who scuffed the ball under the body of the late-diving Ludvigssen. It was far too late, at the end of a match most of the team, and the hapless Larsen in particular, will want to forget.


The big match on day three was G-44 versus Nagdlúnguak-48 in a battle of northern Greenland's Big Two, and it was fairly even for the first ten minutes, but it livened up in the 12th minute when Jan Jensen pounced on Patrick Larsen's headed clearance, volleyed the ball into the ground from close to the 18-yard line and watched as it careered past N-48 keeper Gabriel Petersen. It was his first goal at a national championship for G-44 since transferring from the Ilulissat club. The closest either side came to putting another goal on the scoreboard in a first-half full of counter-attacks was when Nagdlúnguak-48's Markus Jensen only just failed to put Søren Kreutzmann's wicked cross the right side of the post two minutes before half-time.


The second half saw N-48 a little on top early on, and they were denied an equaliser ten minutes in when Arne Per Kruse, deputising for Knud Brandt, superbly saved a Peter Leibhardt piledriver from point-blank range. They continued to increase the pressure on Kruse's goal little by little, and equalised through Søren Kreutzmann's 25-yard free-kick after 72 minutes which fizzed over the G-44 defensive wall and into Kruse's top right-hand corner. The pace became increasingly frantic without either side making many attempts on goal.


It was see-saw stuff, and N-48 looked like they might snatch a winner in the last few minutes of the match, but G-44 defended resolutely. It was heading for a draw, with the allotted three minutes of injury time already played, when Jensen smashed the ball high past Kruse to win the match for G-44. Nagdlúnguak-48's players were incensed, claiming that one of Jensen's team-mates handled the ball in the build-up to his late, late winner, but their protests fell on dead ears.


B-67 made five changes to their starting line-up for their next match, against Eqaluk-54, and they found it suitably difficult to make the expected breakthrough against a team who were not only stubborn in defence but also troublesome on the counter-attack. It took a delightful free-kick n the half-hour from one of the six players in the team who started against G-44, Niels Svane, to break the deadlock, and they also hit the post as they went in at the break leading by just the one goal.


Malik Andreassen and Bastian Rosing had been causing the B-67 defence all sorts of problems during the game, and it was the latter who brought Eqaluk level in spectacular style after 61 minutes. After some nice one-touch football in midfield, Rafael Semsen sent the ball forward, Rosing outstripped Otiri Fredriksen for pace and let fly from just outside the box on the right-hand side; the ball flew past Rosing Kleist and into the far corner.


Both teams came perilously close to taking the lead in the second half before B-67 took all three points with two late goals. Niels Patrick Jensen put the champions 2:1 in the 87th minute up with a shot across the face of Ian Enoksen's goal. The goalkeeper attempted to keep it out with an outstretched leg instead of diving at it, but the ball evaded him and went in just inside the far post. Rene Eriksen Petersen scored B-67's third two minutes into injury-time when he calmly slotted the ball past Enoksen at the keeper's right-hand post.


IT-79 were far from firing on all cylinders as they went into the final fixture of the day against GSS, and almost fell behind early on but for Mutsi Motzfeldt's reflex save from Lars Ole Lyberth. Lyberth almost played himself into a goalscoring position moments later, but big Leif Eskildsen arrived on the scene just in time with a hefty block. And, Kuutaq Olsen could have done better for GSS when he scuffed a shot from close to the penalty-spot close to half-time, but it remained scoreless at half-time, despite GSS having more chances - and being the better side - during the first half.


Much of the second half was little to write home about, though Aqqalu Sandgreen did test Motzfeldt from an acute angle with twenty minutes to go. IT-79 finally decided to try and make a game of it after Sandgreen's chance, and gradually took control, scoring with eleven minutes left. Substitute Kjeld Frederiksen swivelled and shot into the bottom corner from fourteen yards out and GSS, despite clearly being the better side for most of the preceding 79 minutes, found themselves a goal behind. Four minutes later, just to add insult to injury, Inuuteq Kreutzmann was played through by Morten Fleischer, and Kreutzmann's diagonal run took him round Olsvig and he tapped the ball into the net to double the Students' lead. GSS perhaps deserved to beat IT-79 and certainly played their best ninety minutes of the tournament thus far, but forgot the cardinal rule of football: if you can't score goals, you won't win matches.


Bright sunshine greeted Nagdlúnguak-48 and Eqaluk-54's match, which kicked off day four, and the northerners soon got into their stride, Nick Reimer scoring their first within eight minutes after being given a ridiculous amount of room just shy of the six-yard box to latch on to Hans Peter Pars' looping cross and scuff a volley past Ian Enoksen. Reimer doubled N-48's lead barely two minutes later, nodding in Markus Jensen's cross to finish off a counter-attack.


A minute later, it was 3:0 and, unfortunately for the goalkeepers' union, it was down to an errand goal-kick from Enoksen which went straight to Søren Kreutzmann, who punted the ball into the path of Markus Jensen, who left the Eqaluk defence floundering before chipping the ball over the almost-prone Enoksen. It was 4:0 after fourteen minutes, after a mistake by defender Poul Semsen which he ensured that he joined Enoksen in the bad books. The Eqaluk defender attempted to slide the ball past Kreutzmann with the outside of his foot, but merely managed to deflect the ball off him and into the path of Nick Reimer. Reimer ran on into the box; faced with a one-on-one with Enoksen and given to complete an early hat-trick, he instead passed the ball to Kreutzmann, who had matched him stride for stride and gently knocked the ball into an empty net.


Just after the half-hour mark, seconds after N-48's Aputsiaq Gabrielsen was denied twice, first by Enoksen and then by Malik Andreassen's headed clearance off the goal-line, Minik Stephensen handled the ball in his own penalty-area, and Kreutzmann dispatched the resulting penalty into the top corner. Eqaluk played themselves into trouble more or less straight from the restart and failed to properly cleared the ball from their own penalty-area. Nick Reimer received the ball and passed to Gabrielsen, who calmly side-footed the ball across Enoksen and into the far corner.


The first-half suffering wasn't over just yet for Eqaluk; with ten minutes to go to the break, they once again lost the ball cheaply in midfield, which was picked up by Kreutzmann. He passed to Lars-Erik Reimer, who one-twoed with brother Nick, ran into left-hand side of the box and eased the ball past Enoksen into the net.


Minik Stephensen pulled a goal back for Eqaluk with a fiercely-struck penalty two minutes into the second half, but it was merely a consolation goal as N-48 piled on the agony in the second 45 minutes. Nick Reimer completed his hat-trick in the 54th minute, and Niklas Johansen made it nine just over a minute later; Markus Jensen - whether by accident or design - played a one-two with the referee, who had fallen over, and then went on a 60-yard run into the Eqaluk penalty-area, leaving three defenders for dust, before passing the ball across to Johansen, who duly did the needful.


And double-figures was reached barely two minutes further down the line, Nick Reimer bundling home Markus Jensen's cross at the second attempt. The goals kept coming thick and fast; Jensen scored N-48's eleventh goal on the hour mark with a shot which bounced across the box and Enoksen's goal into the far corner. Jensen turned provider once again in the 63rd minute when he found Kreutzmann in space ten yards out on the left-hand side of the area, and Kreutzmann crashed the ball into the roof of the net.


At the other end, Gabriel Petersen showed he was still alert when he kept out Bernhardt Simonsen's effort with his legs, but with a quarter of an hour left to play, Nick Reimer scored his fifth when he floated the ball past Enoksen after Kreutzmann put him through. Tommy Kristoffersen came close for Eqaluk with a terrific half-volley from an acute angle on the left-hand side of the penalty-area, which beat Petersen but not the underside of the crossbar before, with nine minutes to go, Nukannguaq Petersen's lovely effort from the edge of the box curled into the far bottom corner for Nagdlúnguak-48's fourteenth goal. They had three good chances to further increase Eqaluk's pain, but squandered them. Still, it was a fearsomely clinical display from N-48, one to give future opponents GSS and B-67 something to think about.


First, though, both Nuuk clubs had to play each other in the day's second game, and although B-67's squad had a different look to the one which won the 2018 GM, they were still considered, on paper at least, to be too strong for GSS. And, that is exactly how it turned out. They hit the front in the 13th minute thanks to Karsten Møller Andersen's shot from outside the penalty-area, which evaded GSS keeper Søren Olsvig and crept in at the far post. Hans Bajare, wearing the number 1 shirt, doubled B-67's lead in the 27th minute when he outstripped Innujuk Ostermann Søholm for pace to reach a through ball, rounded Olsvig, dummied Ostermann Søholm almost on the goal-line and tapped the ball in from two yards out before putting on his superhero face-mask. Bajare rounded Olsvig again to score less than three minutes later, with Rene Eriksn Petersen providing the assist. The face-mask stayed in his shorts this time.


Both teams missed chances as the half wore on, and both Olsvig and his B-67 counterpart Brian Rosing Kleist pulled off excellent saves. Lars Ole Olsen almost pulled a goal back for GSS in bizarre fashion, when his shot was wildly kicked away by Pavia Wille; Wille's attempted clearance across the box took a wicked bounce backwards and hit the outside of the post with Rosing Kleist a spectator.


The second half was dominated by B-67, but they were unable to find a way past a tenacious GSS defence until substitute Kristian Evaldsen delightfully curled a ball into the top corner of the net with less than a quarter of an hour to go. Evaldsen turned provider with six minutes left when he threaded a pass through to Giiti Gedion Korneliussen, who turned and stuck the ball in the bottom corner. B-67 deserved the win without any shadow of a doubt, but the margin of victory flattered them rather.

Matches between IT-79 and G-44 are usually competitive affairs, but this one was dominated by G-44 right from the start. Five minutes in, John-Ludvig Broberg weaved some magic on the left-hand side of the IT-79 box and crossed to Inooraq Svendsen, who flopped forward to head the ball over five defenders and goalkeeper Minik Mikkaelsen and into the net. The pink wall was breached again in the 23rd minute when Ittukusuk Isaksen pounced on a loose header inside the IT-79 box and volleyed the ball into the rook of the net via Mikkaelsen's foot to double G-44's lead.



Hans Jørgen Zeeb as good as made the points safe in the 65th minute when he fired home from the left-hand side into the far corner from Mika Davidsen's cross-field ball. Jakob Fleischer almost pulled a goal back for IT-79 seconds later, but his shot hit one post, rolled along the goal-line, hit the other post and bounced perfectly for defender Ilasiannguaq Martinsen to clear the danger. Morten Fleischer did put the ball in the net for the Students with fourteen minutes left when he latched on to a through ball from midfield and drove the ball under Arne Per Kruse. Leif Eskildsen had the chance to reduce the arrears still further as IT-79 belatedly built up a head of steam, but his shot was deflected just over the crossbar. It was all in vain, however, as Mika Davidsen tapped in a fourth for G-44 with five minutes to go to finish off a comprehensive and generally comfortable victory, one which sent them through to the semi-finals.



N-48 would join them if they defeated GSS in the first game on the final full day of group action, but they missed a couple of good chances early on as the underdogs grew in confidence and were always ready to take the game to their more illustrious opponents. However, once Lars-Erik Reimer headed Nagdlúnguak-48 in front in the 22nd minute following Søren Kreutzmann's corner, it looked for all the world that it would turn out to be a comfortable 90 minutes for N-48. It turned out to be heavy going for a while, though. Hans Peter Pars almost doubled his team's lead, but his goal-bound header was cleared off the line. Nick Reimer was denied by a point-blank save from Søren Olsvig in the GSS goal, and Markus Jensen had a goal ruled out for offside. Then, Jensen and Aputsiaq Gabrielsen contrived to miss a chance which either player really should have scored.


But, the second goal did come five minutes before the break as Kreutzmann, who had been one of the best players in the tournament up to this point, used his speed and strength down the left to set up Jensen, who fired home across Olsvig. Within two minutes, it was 3:0, Patrick Larsen's deflected low cross into the box falling perfectly for Nick Reimer, who shot high into the net. Olsvig made a good double save before Jensen was put clear in the last minute of the first half, and he squared the ball to Reimer, who tapped in to net perhaps the easiest goal he'll ever score.



N-48 continued to set the tone as they continued to bombard the GSS goal, and, having essentially done the job, decided to give the big guns a breather, substituting both Lars-Erik and Nick Reimer, as well as Jensen and Kreutzmann. They scored a fifth just past the hour mark through Peter Rosbach, his shot from over twenty yards out arrowing past Olsvig and into the top corner. The woodwork and Olsvig contrived to keep out Nagdlúnguak-48 for the rest of the second half; Niklas Johansen hit the crossbar, Aputsiaq Gabrielsen the post, and Olsvig made a couple of good saves, the best coming when he got down low to keep out Larsen's shot. Regardless of the fact that they could only score once during the second half, N-48's young guns made a good impression, and the team were looking dangerous as they awaited their final match against B-67.


First, though, B-67 had a game against cross-town rivals IT-79 to worry about, and a win would put them within touching distance of a place in the final. They got off to a perfect start in the fourth minute when Rene Eriksen Petersen's shot from the 18-yard line looped over the Students' keeper Malik Mikaelsen and flew high into the net. Twenty-five minutes later, the champions doubled their lead. Giiti Gedion Korneliussen stroked a low cross into the penalty-area from the right-hand side, and Niels Patrick Jensen strided on to the ball and beat Mikaelsen at his near post.


Jakob Fleischer fluffed a gilt-edged chance to pull a goal back for IT-79 moments later when he rose unopposed in a car park's worth of room at the edge of the six-yard-box to connect with a cross fired in from the left, but he got his gears mixed up and failed to connect properly with the ball, sending it trundling wide instead of past Brian Rosing Kleist in the B-67 goal. Both teams missed chances before B-67 scored a third in the 52nd minute, and it was quite superb. Petersen chased down a pass which was destined to cross the goal-line down near the right-hand corner, got to the ball in time, turned a defender and ran into the box before shooting from an acute angle high into the net, just inside the angle of post and crossbar.


Kristian Evaldsen added a fourth four minutes later, scuffing the ball in off the post after racing through the IT-79 defence. Julius Motzfeldt thought he had pulled a goal back for IT-79, but it was disallowed as Motzfeldt had scored from an offside position after Jakob Fleischer's shot rebounded off the post and into his path. To give the Students their due, they kept coming forward but were unable to find a way through B-67's well-organised defence, and just to add to their woes, Petersen got his hat-trick with less than two minutes left. He latched on to a through ball as B-67 counter-attacked, rounded Mikaelsen and slotted the ball past the despairing lunge of a defender and into the net.


IT-79 might have been praying for the final whistle to sound as the game entered injury-time, but they conceded another two goals in less than two minutes. First, Erik Petersen sent Giiti Gedion Korneliussen on his way to steer the ball past the oncoming Mikaelsen, and then Pavia Wille passed the ball across the penalty-area and behind the IT-79 defence to Ivik Paulsen, who simply couldn't miss. The odds at the start of play might have been slightly against IT-79 getting anything out of the game, but surely nobody expected them to lose by such a huge margin. Judging by the amount of time they spent in the B-67 half and the number of shots they had, they didn't deserve to. B-67 were, simply, finally back to their ruthless best.


On paper, the clash between Eqaluk-54 and G-44 looked like a shoe-in for the team from the north, but the reality was anything but. The first half was very even, with both teams showing attacking intent and missing chances, though G-44 should perhaps have been awarded a penalty right on half-time when Lars-Peter Broberg's shot in a packed six-yard box seemed to have been handled by Minik Stephensen, but the referee deemed that that was not the case.


The best chance during the early stages of the second half fell to Equaluk-54's Inunnguaq Geronne, who picked up Inooraq Svendsen's awful clearance, but he hurriedly scuffed a shot from the edge of the area which careered wide, instead of taking his time and running on into the box to shoot with only goalkeeper Arne Per Kruse to beat. The second half was marred by a shoulder injury to Eqaluk goalkeeper Ian Enoksen, who got a knock to the head and shoulder in bravely throwing himself at the ball fractionally in front of opponent Ittukusuk Isaksen. He attempted to continue, but was eventually substituted by Inuk Mathæussen.


The game meandered on with the occasional shot on goal, and the closest either side came to scoring was when G-44's Phillip Holmene shot against the side-netting from close range with Mathæussen cowering. That is, until twenty minutes left when Bastian Rosing showed the G-44 defence a clean pair of heels whilst picking up a hooked clearance, but Rosing's second touch was a little two firm, and although he just about got a shot away before goalkeeper Arne Per Kruse reached him, his effort went agonisingly the wrong side of the post. Still it remained scoreless, and Malik Andreassen was unlucky to lose his footing just as Kruse fumbled Rosing's shot from the far side of the penalty-area; if he had reached it, Andreassen had only to tap the ball into an empty net from three yards out.


G-44 were struggling to find a way through - and contain - a determined Eqaluk-54 side, and were seeing their chance to reach the final slipping away, until, with two minutes left, Inooraq Olrik tore down the left, whipped in a cross which was met with a glancing header, which fell invitingly to Danny Mølgaard, who shinned the ball past Mathæssen for the winner. They came close to a second in the last twenty seconds of injury-time, but Phillip Holmene's header crashed off the bar. No matter, Mølgaard's goal was enough to put G-44 through to their first final since 2013.



But who would they meet there? They would have to wait until the next day to find that out, and then only after Eqaluk-54 and GSS met to decide who would be walking away with the dreaded wooden-spoon. Eqaluk-54 cruised past the Nuuk side in their group game, and it was the same story this time, too. Arne Simonsen put them ahead after a quarter of an hour, and Bastian Rosing doubled their advantage after 36 minutes. Rafael Semsen made it 3:0 five minutes before half-time, and two minutes after the break, Inuujuk Ostermann Søholm put through his own goal to further increase E-54's lead. Inunnguaq Geronne made it five six minutes later before Isak Titussen scored from the penalty-spot with sixteen minutes left to ensure a happy trip home to southern Greenland for his side, who had played well during the tournament despite a horrendous defeat against Nagdlúnguak-48.


But, can they capitalise on their decent showing next time around, whether the next GM be held next year or in 2021? They have some good, creative players such as Rafael Semsen and Arne Simonsen, and a capable goalkeeper in Ian Enoksen. Not only did Eqaluk-54 try to play good attacking football, they also played with a lot of heart, and their defence was often difficult to break down. The signs for the future are encouraging for this club from the southernmost reaches of Greenland. 


For GSS, it was all about enjoying the experience and just taking part in the final stages of a GM for the first time in decades, as different players and staff admitted in the media before the tournament began. Kuutaq Olsen and former B-67 player Hans Brummerstedt were resolute in defence, and Søren Olsing in goal deserves a lot of credit for some fine displays; on the whole, the team played better than their results suggest. Whether GSS will kick on from here and build a team capable of least challenging for a spot at future finals tournaments, or whether the men's team will disappear back into the shadows of their women's team for years to come, is anyone's guess, but it was good to see Nuuk's oldest club back at the top table of Greenlandic football once more.


With G-44 already into the final, N-48 and B-67 had to play their postponed match from the Monday before to decide who would play them for the GM 2019 title. B-67, despite not being their usual dominant selves, had still picked up ten points from their first four group games and only needed a point to progress. However, N-48, sitting a point behind B-67 in the Final 6 going into the decider, were in fine goalscoring form and determined to finally get a particular monkey off their back: they had never beaten B-67 at the finals of a national championship, at least not since full records began in the early 1980s.


It didn't take them long to get in front, thanks to Hans Peter Pars' early goal after only three minutes, when he scrambled a loose ball after B-67 keeper Brian Rosing Kleist fumbled Søren Kreutzmann's free-kick, losing his bearings in the process. Moments later, Rosing Kleist saved well from Nick Reimer after one of the latter's trademark barnstorming runs. Then, Aputsiaq Gabrielsen saw his goalbound shot blocked by B-67 defender Aputsiaq Birch, before the rebound fell to Peter Leibhardt, who skewered the rebound wide with an empty goal in front of him and Rosing Kleist stranded. But, the die had been cast.


With ten minutes of the first half left, Gabrielsen was again denied, this time by Rosing Kleist, and although Nick Reimer's header from the resulting rebound cleared Patrick Otiri Frederiksen, it didn't get past Birch on the goal-line, who headed the ball onto the underside of the crossbar and into the grateful clutch of Rosing Kleist. N-48 were playing with the intensity of deliriously whirling dervishes, and Nick Reimer almost managed to find Markus Jensen in front of an empty net at the end of another lightning-quick counter attack, but Birch again thwarted the green wave, getting back in time to thunder Reimer's cross-goal pass over his own crossbar.


Reimer himself began a personal assault on the B-67 goal, sending a header from a Kreutzmann corner hurtling wide when he perhaps should have scored, and then sent in a thunderbolt from 25 yards which hit the inside of the post before being cleared by Hans Christian Boller. Lars-Erik Reimer spooned a shot wide from a good position after yet more good work from Kreutzmann and a pass from brother Nick with just over a minute to go until half-time.


B-67 were on the ropes and struggling to cope with N-48's intense one-touch football and rampaging runs from Kreutzmann, Jensen and the Reimers. But, just as they were looking at reaching half-time having conceded just the one goal, they were cut apart by a touch of Route One football. Petersen sent a defence-splitting long ball of howitzer proportions forward for Kreutzmann to chase; not only did the winger get there, he only needed one touch to steady himself before dinking the ball with aplomb past the sliding Rosing Kleist into the corner of the net from fourteen yards out. A breathtaking goal to end a breathless first half.


N-48 dominated the early stages of the second half, barely allowing B-67 to cross the halfway-line for any length of time. Markus Jensen missed two chances for the Illulissat side, shaving the post with the first one and the second, a weak shot, was easily collected by goalkeeper Rosing Kleist. Then, with 25 minutes to go, he missed a third chance. Lars-Erik Reimer dispossessed Aputsiaq Birch and went rampaging into the B-67 half before crossing the ball to Jensen, who thumped the ball against the post from inside the box; the ball fell to Nick Reimer, who struggled to control it before losing it to a batch of B-67 defenders. And, Aputsiaq Gabrielsen also missed a chance to extend the lead when he ballooned the ball over the bar from a good position inside the penalty area.


B-67 finally created a chance worthy of the name with ten minutes left; Patrick Oteri Frederiksen latched on to a ball down the right and raced past Kaali Lund Mathæssen until he reached the goal-line where he was confronted by N-48 keeper Gabriel Petersen. He then passed the ball inside to Niels Patrick Jensen, whose shot from the six-yard line was superbly deflected over the bar by Bruno Sandgreen's last-ditch tackle.


And then with three minutes left, N-48 booked their place in the final, and once again it was a case of: cometh the hour, cometh the Kreutzmann. Markus Jensen's cross from the right was parried by Rosing Kleist, the B-67 defence failed to clear the ball, and in the resulting melée, the ball fell to Søren Kreutzmann, who controlled it and steered it low into the net from ten yards out. Lars-Erik Reimer then missed a golden opportunity to make it 4:0 after Kreutzmann weaved some magic and his way into the box before passing to Reimer, who snatched at the ball, sending it high and wide from just a few yards out.


But, N-48 were not to be denied a fourth goal, and it came in the second minute of injury-time. Substitute Nukannguaq Petersen played a one-two with Markus Jensen before shooting from just inside the penalty-area; Rosing Kleist parried the ball before fumbling it into Petersen's path, and the substitute clipped it over the stricken keeper before knocking the ball gently into the net. The result did not flatter N-48 in any way; it must have been years since B-67 were so outclassed at a major tournament.


They had the chance to redeem themselves the next day in the third-place play-off against city rivals IT-79, as both teams made a raft of changes from their previous matches, preferring to give some of their second-string players a start as the tournament drew to a close. B-67 started off the brighter of the two teams, though for all their possession in the first ten minutes, they were unable to muster a single shot on Malik Mikaelsen's goal. IT-79 had a couple of shots during the following ten minutes or so, but they were either wayward or speculative.


The first real chance of the match fell to B-67 after 25 minutes, when a free-kick was lofted into the IT-79 box. It fell perfectly for Kristian Evaldsen, but he was unable to control it; as IT-79 defenders sprung about like bounding puppies in front of him, Evaldsen had a second bite of the cherry, but could only blaze the ball over the bar. Shortly afterwards, Rene Eriksen Petersen burst into the IT-79 area, but he hurried his sidefooted shot, which was easily gathered by the grateful Mikaelsen.


Then, on thirty-six minutes, out of nowhere, IT-79 took the lead. Nuka-Peter Ottosen's cross-field free-kick reached Julius Motzfeldt on the far side of the B-67 penatly-area. He shot on the spin, but his attempt only reached team-mate Leif Eskildsen. A good thing it did, for Eskildsen had time to control the ball, with the the B-67 defence standing watching him, before prodding it past Brian Rosing Kleist to put his side ahead.


More chances began to fall the way of the Students in the run-up to half-time: Morten Fleischer tested Rosing Kleist with a free-kick before Julius Motzfeldt's corner-kick was cleared off the line by Patrick Oteri Frederiksen. Fleischer was put clear by player-manager Kassaannguaq Zeeb, but was unable to get a shot in berore Rosing Kleist put in a timely tackle and smothered the ball before Fleischer could react.


B-67 started the second half brightly enough, with Mikki Brønlund whipping in a free-kick to Mikaelsen's near post, which the keeper pushed round the post for a corner. Eriksen Petersen tried a shot from distance which went a yard over Mikaelsen's crossbar, but B-67 were at least getting into good positions now.


However, IT-79 have a reputation for playing counter-attacking football, and B-67 were undone by one such counter-attack in the 55th minute. A quick free-kick and a ball up to Maassinguaq Brandt sowed the seeds of panic in the B-67 defence; Brandt played a one-two with Morten Fleischer and then attempted to pass the ball beyond Rosing Kleist from the right-hand side of the area. Rosing Kleist got down well to save Brandt's shot, but could only parry it into the path of Julius Motzfeldt, who thrashed the ball in at the near post.


B-67 were unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty ten minutes later when Mikkaelsen mowed down Karsten Møller Andersen close to the goal-line. There was clear contact and Møller Andersen certainly felt Mikkaelsen's challenge, but the referee merely awarded a goal-kick to IT-79, much to Møller Andersen's disgust. Otiri Frederiksen and Henning Bajare almost fashioned something decisive to bring B-67 back into the match, but Otiri Frederiksen's turn and shot from outside the penalty-area left much to be desired. He had much more time to compose himself and shoot than he thought.


Otiri Frederiksen and Møller Andersen combined to set up Ilatannguaq Mørch, but his attempted attempt at placing the ball into the top corner of Mikkaelsen's net went the wrong side of the post. Otiri Frederiksen almost benefitted from a mix-up between Eskildsen and Mikkaelsen, but needed just a little too much time to control the ball, by which time Eskildsen had got back to block the B-67 man's shot. Try as they might, B-67 could not find a way back into the match, and the Students had not only gained revenge for their 7:0 drubbing in the group stage, but finished the GM2019 on the podium.


B-67 are in the process of rebuilding their team, they greatly missed the inspirational presence of Ari Hermann, and suffered from a severe lack of composure in front of goal at times, especially in their third-place play-off defeat where they were swept away by N-48, but can point to a number of positives. They've finally found themselves a good replacement for their legendary former goalkeeper Loke Svane in Brian Rosing Kleist, whilst Aputsiaq Birch performed consistently well in defence. Patrick Otiri Frederiksen stepped up to the plate in the role of captain, showing at last what he can do, while younger players such as Rene Eriksen Petersen and Niels Patrick Jensen are proof that the B-67 production line continues to churn out good players. With Hermann hopefully back in the team in good time for next year (or perhaps even the Futsal GM this coming autumn), don't bet against them reaching for the top as per usual.


IT-79's own production line is perhaps less prolific than that of their more illustrious neighbours, and Hans-Karl Berthelsen's absence was no doubt keenly felt, but new players are coming through the ranks, and the team's old guard still did the club proud. Player-manager Kaassannguaq Zeeb is still the glue which holds everything together, and he was ably assisted by his faithful lieutenants Morten and Jakob Fleischer, Julius Motzfeldt and Gedion Kleist. Leif Eskildsen and Maassinguaq Brandt are just two of the players who will ensure that the Students will continue to be awkward opponents for most clubs in Greenland for the next while, though the team still relies a little too much on the counter-attack.


A steady crowd had been building up all the way through the third-place match ahead of the final between G-44 and Nagdlúnguak-48, and the former's colourful supporters were, as usual, there in force and in good voice. Most of them were to be found on the hill overlooking the pitch, and there was also much local interest in the match as the good people of Sisimuit watched the match from the comfort of their cars, from the blocks of flats overlooking the pitch and from the houses across the road. Perhaps a thousand people were watching as the match kicked off to the strains of Queen's "We Will Rock You."


Both teams have had to sit back in recent years and watch B-67 take the spoils; G-44 have only ever won the Greenland national championship twice, with their last victory coming in 2011. N-48, meanwhile, held the record number of GM titles with ten until 2015, when B-67 overtook them. Their last title win came in 2007, though they ran B-67 perilously close in 2018. It was the year Nick Reimer finally came of age football-wise, and few who watched that final will forget his tears at the final whistle.


The first few minutes of the 2019 final were a bit on the cagey side as both teams tried to size the other up, though N-48 had slightly more of the possession, and the first attempt on goal, a shot from thirty yards from Markus Jensen after six minutes, had G-44 keeper Arne Per Kruse scrambling. A decent period of pressure from G-44 followed, which ended when Lars-Peter Broberg headed over a corner-kick.


In the 18th minute, N-48 won a throw-in on the right. Peter Leibhardt took the throw, passing to Lars-Erik Reimer, who turned John-Ludvig Broberg and sent in a cross towards the far post, which evaded everyone in the G-44 defence but not brother Nick, who had long lost his marker and ghosted in to side-foot a volley into the net off the far post to give the team from Ilulissat the lead.


Ittukusuk Isaksen almost levelled a few minutes later when he broke through the N-48 defence and shot from the edge of the area, but Gabriel Petersen got down well to smother Isaksen's effort. At the other end, N-48 almost profited from some slack defending when Lars-Peter Broberg was caught napping by Lars-Erik Reimer, who won the ball and passed to Markus Jensen. Jensen ran into the area and shot, but Kruse stood up well to Jensen's shot and beat the ball away. Jensen then dispossessed another defender shortly afterwards and ran on with the ball, but his shot, when it came, was wild and way over the bar. Both teams had a half-chance or two as the half came to an end, but it was a generally scrappy last quarter of an hour.


The second half started with G-44 in the ascendancy, but they were unable to create any real chances or get any shots in from distance as they were prevented from doing either by a wall of green in front of them. N-48 attempted to counter-attack but the final ball was continually played too far in front of a player in a promising position. In fact, the first shot on target in the second half came after 61 minutes, when G-44's Steve Broberg hit a weak shot on the turn from well outside the area which bobbled its way harmlessly through into the hands of Gabriel Petersen.


N-48, meanwhile, got an effort on target with Lars-Erik Reimer's diving header four minutes later, but Arne Per Kruse in the G-44 goal was equal to it. The game was not living up to many people's expectations and lulls were frequent, but Kreutzmann did his best to wake everyone up when he flew past Lars-Peter Broberg on the left, sprinted into the penalty-area and shot from an acute angle. The shot was on target, but Kruse was alert to the danger, flicking out his left hand to pull off a decent save.


Kreutzmann's effort gave the game the impetus it so badly needed, and saw both teams trying unsuccessfully to break through each other's defences, though Nick Reimer was denied twice by excellent tackles from Inooraq Svendsen when about to shoot having cut through the G-44 defence. Shortly after G-44 were once again denied by manic defending from N-48, they were almost undone by a counter-attack ten minutes from time. The Reimer brothers combined to send Kreutzmann on his merry way down the left once again; he outfoxed Lars-Peter Broberg, cut inside and sent in a curling shot twenty-odd yards from goal which Kruse just about got his hands to in order to divert the ball on to the bar and behind for a corner.


Lars-Erik Reimer and Inooraq Svendsen (twice) both came close for their respective teams with fierce drives from distance as the game entered its last few minutes. Four minutes of nerve-jangling injury-time were played as G-44 tried to find a way past the N-48 defence, but their efforts were in vain. Come the final whistle, the N-48 team converged in the centre-circle and merged into one big green blob of joy. The celebrations were long and loud as the Reimer brothers led the N-48 team on a sort of Greenlandic victory haka, and they were all joined by an exuberant trio of female cheerleaders just a little older than the average. In contrast, captain Kaali Lund Mathæussen was the picture of calmness itself as he stepped up to accept the trophy - the first national championship won by his club in twelve long years.


So, triumph at last for Nagdlúnguak-48, but the wait for a third title goes on for G-44. They should take heart from their performance during the tournament, though, and more than merited their place in the final. The team from Qeqertarsuaq has a number of fine players within its ranks, not to mention two very good goalkeepers in Arne Per Kruse and Knud Brandt. Inooraq Svendsen was crowned player of the tournament by the KAK as he and fellow defender Lars-Peter Broberg excelled at the back, and were ably assisted by Mads Andersen. Further up the pitch, another Broberg, John-Ludvig performed very well, as did the dangerous Ittukusuk Isaksen. It is almost unfair to name particular players as the team generally performed very solidly as a unit, and it is a pity that there will be no national championship this year as it would have been very interesting to discover whether G-44 would have been able to take that final step up and become national champions.


For N-48, the suffering was over, and they were the best team on show at GM2019. A team who attacked with style and speed, and defended as though their lives depended on it were worthy winners of the title. Peter Rosbach earned the KAK's award for most combative player, and Søren Kreutzmann, who has been improving year on year, was given the most technical player award.


As far as your correspondent is concerned, Kreutzmann was the player of the tournament; he was stupendous. He was not afraid to defend, was scintillating on the ball and put in one heck of a shift off it, and managed to score seven goals. Kreutzmann has arrived. Markus Jensen was as talismanic as ever, and he and the ever-reliable Aputsiaq Gabrielsen ran themselves into the ground during the final. Jensen is still the man who makes N-48 tick, but he couldn't do it without Nick and Lars-Erik Reimer, both of whom constantly showed during the tournament - and after the final - just how much it means for them to play for their team; they contributed not just heart, but goals, speed and intelligent football, too. Jensen and both Reimer brothers are the heart and soul of the team, but overlook the rest of the squad at your own risk.


Goalkeeper Gabriel Petersen had a superb tournament, and N-48' s old guard - players such as Kaali Lund Mathæussen, Rosbach, Minik Svendsen and Peter Leibhardt - did them proud. They, like Jensen and the Reimers, have evolved with the team over the past few years and thoroughly deserved their place in the sun. Patrick Larsen did his bit up front, too, and he has a very bright future in front of him. Like their counterparts across Disko Bay, it would have been fascinating to see how Nagdlúnguak-48 would have fared at this year's GM, but the seemingly incessant march of the Corona virus has put paid to that plan, and, of course, many, many others.


There has been talk of local competitions being organised to keep Greenland's male footballers focussed ahead of next year's NatWest Island Games tournament, which - all being well - will take place in Guernsey, but, most probably, they will have to concentrate on the national Futsal tournament, which was moved from its usual spot during the spring to late this year, if it takes place at all. Whether the cancellation of the 2020 outdoor regional and national championship temporarily puts the brakes on the development of football in Greenland remains to be seen, but it was an understandable decision by the KAK to pull the plug on both the men's and women's competitions. After all, the health of the country (well, any country) outweighs any and all sporting considerations. Still, there's always next year's tournaments to look forward to.




RESULTS



GROUP STAGE


05/08/19 IT-79 3:1 Eqaluk-54 (Jakob Fleischer, Julius Motzfeldt, Nikku Mathiassen; Minik Stephensen)
05/08/19 G-44 6:2 GSS (John-Ludvig Broberg 3, Ittukusuk Isaksen, Mads Andersen, Jan Jensen; Kuutaq Olsen, Aqqalu Sandgreen)
RED CARD: Danny Mølgaard (G-44)
06/08/19 Nagdlúnguak-48 3:1 IT-79 (Nick Reimer, Lars-Erik Reimer, Søren Kreutzmann; Gedion Kleist)
06/08/19 B-67 1:1 G-44 (Niels Svane; John-Ludvig Broberg)
RED CARD: John-Ludvig Broberg (G-44)
06/08/19 Eqaluk-54 5:1 GSS (Rafael Semsen, Isak Titussen, Arne Simonsen, Bernhardt Simonsen, Inunnguaq Geronne; Malik Jeremiassen)
07/08/19 Nagdlúnguak-48 1:2 G-44 (Søren Kreutzmann; Jan Jensen 2)
07/08/19 B-67 3:1 Eqaluk-54 (Niels Svane, NIels Patrick Jensen, Rene Eriksen Petersen; Bastian Rosing)
07/08/19 IT-79 2:0 GSS (Kjeld Frederiksen, Inuuteq Kreutzmann)
08/08/19 Nagdlúnguak-48 14:1 Eqaluk-54 (Nick Reimer 5, Søren Kreutzmann 3, Markus Jensen 2, Aputsiaq Gabrielsen, Lars-Erik Reimer, Niklas Johansen, Nukannguaq Petersen; Minik Stephensen)
08/08/19 B-67 5:0 GSS (Henning Bajare 2, Karsten Møller Andersen, Kristian Evaldsen, Giiti Gedion Korneliussen)
08/08/19 IT-79 1:4 G-44 (Morten Fleischer; Inooraq Svendsen, Ittukusuk Isaksen, Hans Jørgen Zeeb, Mika Davidsen)
09/08/19 Nagdlúnguak-48 5:0 GSS (Nick Reimer 2, Lars-Erik Reimer, Markus Jensen, Peter Rosbach)
09/08/19 B-67 7:0 IT-79 (Rene Eriksen Petersen 3, Giiti Gedion Korneliussen, Niels Petrick Jensen, Kristian Evaldsen, Ivik Paulsen)
09/08/19 Eqaluk-54 0:1 G-44 (Danny Mølgaard)
10/08/19 Nagdlúnguak-48 4:0 B-67 (Søren Kreutzmann 2, Hans Peter Pars, Nukannguaq Petersen)


P

W

D

L

GF

GA

PTS

GD

G-44

5

4

1

0

14

5

13

9

NAGDLÚNGUAK-48

5

4

0

1

27

4

12

23

B-67

5

3

1

1

16

6

10

10

IT-79

5

2

0

3

7

15

6

-8

Eqaluk-54

5

1

0

4

8

22

3

-14

GSS

5

0

0

5

3

23

0

-20


PLAY-OFFS


FIFTH-PLACE PLAY-OFF




10/08/19 Eqaluk-54 6:0 GSS (Arne Simonsen, Bastian Rosing, Rafael Semsen, Inuujuk Ostermann Søholm OG, Inunnguaq Geronne, Isak Titussen)



THIRD-PLACE PLAY-OFF




11/08/19 IT-79 2:0 B-67 (Leif Eskildsen, Juluis Motzfeldt)


IT-79: 1 Minik MIKKAELSEN; 4 Nuka-Peter OTTOSEN, 9 Morten FLEISCHER, 10 Julius MOTZFELDT (30 Jakob FLEISCHER), 14 Leif ESKILDSEN, 15 Mika-Peter HANSEN, 16 Anguttisiaq KRISTENSEN (28 Thomas ROSSEN BJØRN), 21 Pauli THOMSEN, 22 Nikku MATHIASSEN (7 Massinnguaq BRANDT), 32 Gedion KLEIST, 33 Kaassannguaq ZEEB


B-67: 22 Brian ROSING KLEIST;4 Morten GADE NYSTRUP, 6 Patrick OTIRI FREDERIKSEN, 9 Kristian EVALDSEN, 10 Rene ERIKSEN PETERSEN, 13 Aputsiaq BIRCH, 15 Mikki BRØNLUND (3 Niels SVANE), 20 Kent JEREMIASSEN (1 Henning BAJARE), 26 Ivik PAULSEN (7 Giiti Gedion KORNELIUSSEN), 66 Ilatannguaq MØRCH

FINAL



11/08/09 G-44 0:1 Nagdlúnguak-48 (Nick Reimer)


G-44: 12 Arne Per KRUSE; 2 Mika DAVIDSEN (7 Steve BROBERG), 4 Nukannguaq ZEEB, 9 John-Ludvig BROBERG, 10 Ittukusuk ISAKSEN (26 Inooraq OLRIK), 11 Mads ANDERSEN, 14 Ilasiannguaq MARTINSEN (27 Danny MØLGAARD), 18 Hans Jørgen ZEEB (30 Jan JENSEN), 20 Zakorat ZEEB, 21 Lars-Peter BROBERG, 22 Inooraq SVENDSEN


NAGDLÚNGUAK-48: 1 Gabriel PETERSEN; 4 Minik SVENDSEN, 5 Lars-Erik REIMER, 6 Søren KREUTZMANN, 7 Nick REIMER, 8 Markus JENSEN (10 Bruno SANDGREEN), 9 Aputsiaq GABRIELSEN (2 Karl-Peter STREET), 11 Peter LEIBHARDT, 14 Kaali LUND MATHÆUSSEN, 15 Peter ROSBACH, 19 Patrick LARSEN


SQUADS (where known)


B-67: 22 Brian ROSING KLEIST; 1 Henning BAJARE, 3 Niels SVANE, 4 Morten GADE NYSTRUP, 5 Hans CHRISTIAN BOLLER, 6 Patrick OTIRI FREDERIKSEN, 7 Giiti Gedion KORNELIUSSEN, 9 Kristian EVALDSEN, 10 Rene ERIKSEN PETERSEN, 13 Aputsiaq BIRCH, 15 Mikki BRØNLUND, 18 Niels Patrick JENSEN, 19 Karsten MØLLER ANDERSEN, 20 Kent JEREMIASSEN, 23 Nikolaj KREUTZMANN, 24 Nukappiaraq DAHL THORLEIFSEN, 25 Nukappi KRISTIANSEN, 26 Ivik PAULSEN, 27 Pavia WILLE, 66 Ilatannguaq MØRCH



EQALUK-54: 1 Ian ENOKSEN, 11 Inuk MATHÆUSSEN; 2 Karl Peter STREET, 4 Poul SEMSEN, 5 Kunuuteeraq ISAKSEN, 6 Isak TITUSSEN, 7 Inunnguaq GIRONNE, 8 Elias-Isak TITUSSEN, 9 Taatsiaq MATHIASSEN, 10 Malik ANDREASSEN, 12 Bernhardt SIMONSEN, 13 Minik STEPHENSEN, 14 Kilaasi LUDVIGSEN, 15 Arne SIMONSEN, 16 Rafael SEMSEN, 18 Tommy KRISTOFFERSEN, 19 Bastian ROSING


G-44: 1 Knud BRANDT, 12 Arne Per KRUSE; 2 Mika DAVIDSEN, 3 Aputsiaq HANSEN, 4 Nukannguaq ZEEB, 6 Phillip HOLMENE, 7 Steve BROBERG, 8 Lukka BROBERG, 9 John-Ludvig BROBERG, 10 Ittukusuk ISAKSEN, 11 Mads ANDERSEN, 14 Ilasiannguaq MARTINSEN, 18 Hans Jørgen ZEEB, 20 Zakorat ZEEB, 21 Lars-Peter BROBERG, 22 Inooraq SVENDSEN, 26 Inooraq OLRIK, 27 Danny MØLGAARD, 30 Jan JENSEN


GSS: 1 Tiga LARSEN, 16 Søren OLSVIG; 3 Hans BRUMMERSTEDT, 5 Bent SALLING, 6 Kunuuti KLEEMANN, 7 Anguteq Grønvold, 9 Malik JEREMIASSEN, 10 Aqqalu SANDGREEN, 11 Vilhem HOLM, 14 Nukki FREDERIKSEN, 15 Søren OLSVIG, 18 Mick HOLM, 21 Minik JEREMIASSEN, 22 Kuutak OLSEN, 23 Lars Ole OLSEN, 30 Palu ERIKSEN PETERSEN, 33 Inuujuk OSTERMANN SØHOLM, 45 Lars Ole LYBERTH, 99 Kûno PETERSEN


IT-79: 1 Minik MIKKAELSEN, 12 Mutsi MOTZFELDT; 4 Nuka-Peter OTTOSEN, 6 Miki EGEDE FLEISCHER, 7 Maasinnguaq BRANDT, 9 Morten FLEISCHER, 10 Julius MOTZFELDT, 13 Kjeld FREDERIKSEN, 14 Leif ESKILDSEN, 15 Mika-Peter HANSEN, 16 Angutitsiaq KRISTENSEN, 17 Inuuteq KREUTZMANN, 21 Pauli THOMSEN, 22 Nikku MATHIASSEN, 28 Thomas ROSSEN BJØRN, 30 Jakob FLEISCHER, 32 Gedion KLEIST, 33 Kaassannguaq ZEEB 


NAGDLÚNGUAK-48: 1 Gabriel PETERSEN; 2 Karl-Peter STREET, 3 Niklas JOHANSEN, 5 Lars-Erik REIMER, 6 Søren KREUTZMANN, 7 Nick REIMER, 8 Markus JENSEN, 9 Aputsiaq GABRIELSEN, 10 Bruno SANDGREEN, 11 Peter LEIBHARDT, 13 Nukannguaq PETERSEN, 14 Kaali LUND MATHÆUSSEN, 15 Peter ROSBACH, 17 Hans KRISTIANSEN, 18 Karl Louis SANDGREEN, 19 Patrick LARSEN, 20 Isak HØY, 21 Hans Peter PARS


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AUTHOR'S NOTE: Sermitsiaq and KNR were checked to confirm details or to look for information, and the RSSSF (who else?) website was also scoured for information. If any details are incorrect or missing, kindly get in touch; amendments will gladly be made.