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Saturday, February 15, 2014


Dutch ninth-level club RKVV Tongelre, based in the outer extremities of the southern city of Eindhoven, played host to the touring Tuvalu team on 12/10/13, and it was an evening which not only saw plenty of goals, but one which also had its poignant side. 

The host club was founded on May Day, 1920, in the same year that the town came under the jurisdiction of Eindhoven city council, having had its own local council before then; it is now officially a suburb of Eindhoven. The town of Tongelre was founded sometime before 1241, when it was first mentioned in Dutch historical annals. 

RKVV Tongelre led a nomadic existence early on, having used a number of local grounds before setting up shop at the old Doornakkers sports ground. The club has reached the fifth level of the Dutch football pyramid on two occasions, for the first time in 1960, and again in 1986. Tongelre moved to their current home, the small but not unattractive Tongelre Sportpark, in September 2009.

Proccedings began with the now customary 101 kids versus Tuvalu kickabout, which was unfortunately missed by your correspondent, who was reliably informed by a Tongelre committee member that the visitors had suffered their heaviest defeat during their tour thus far, going down to the youngsters by 15 goals to 3.

READY TO GO: RKVV Tongelre and Tuvalu line up for the pre-match formalities before the beginning of the Herman Claas Memorial Trophy game between the two teams

The main game, being played for the Herman Claas Memorial Trophy, named in honour of Tongelre's popular former chairman who died suddenly in July this year at the age of just 49, kicked off just as darkness was beginning to descend on what turned out to be a cool, though mainly dry, evening, and the first five minutes or so were pretty even, with both teams sizing each other up. Telava Folitau had Tuvalu's, and the game's, first effort on 6 minutes, bursting through the Tongelre defence with a run down the left-hand side before shooting just wide from the edge of the box.

Shortly afterwards, Lutelu Tiute was put through, and his shot hit the bar with the Tongelre goalkeeper well beaten; however, none of the visiting side could capitalise on the rebound and the ball was eventually scrambled away to safety.

Tuvalu had began the game with purpose, continually putting the home team under pressure, and they went in front in the 13th minute, when Taufaiva Ionatana collected the ball some 20-25 yards out, beat a defender and fired low into the goalkeeper's right-hand corner from the edge of the penalty-area.

Tuvalu doubled their advantage just two minutes later when Alopua Petoa, courtesy of a run down the wing and low ball in from Tiute, found himself with the ball at his feet around 10 yards out; Petoa found it difficult to dig the ball out from under his feet but did so at the third attempt, and was able to shoot past the Tongelre goalkeeper.

Things were going swimmingly for Tuvalu at this stage, and their third goal, Petoa's second, came a minute after their second. Petoa was the recipient of a ball played through the middle, and he had plenty of time to steady himself before stroking the ball high to the goalkeeper's right. Petoa almost earned himself a quick-fire hat-trick in the 18th minute, when he burst through the home defence again, only for his shot to hit the post.

Tuvalu had chances to extend their lead further, with Petoa missing another chance after a flowing move, and another chance went begging just afterwards after another move involving several players broke down because of a misplaced pass.

Tongelre's first real shot in anger came in the 23rd minute, a shot flashing dangerously across goal from the right-hand side; this was followed by three substitutions in the next few minutes for the home side.

The substitutions failed to stem the tide of goals, however, and Tuvalu's fourth came almost on the half-hour. A cross from the left-hand side found Sepe Willie Nokisi, who played the ball to Ionatana on his right; Ionatana saw his subsequently shot well saved but Telava Folitau followed up the rebound to tap in at the far post.

It was 5:0 for the visitors after 37 minutes when Nokisi was on the end of a precise through-ball, and his finish was just as precise, a side-footed slide of a shot which went under the Tongelre 'keeper. Tuvalu kept pressing and pressing, and on the end of another through-ball was Lutelu Tiute, but the keeper kept his effort out with aplomb.

A LEISURELY LIMBER-UP: Tuvalu warm up for their game against Tongelre

Five became six with 45 minutes showing on the clock, Nokisi's shot from distance squirming under the Tongelre goalkeeper and into the left-hand corner of the net. Two minutes later, Nokisi notched up his second with a shot from ten yards out, which bobbled a bit and was followed in by Tiute but the ball was over the line. There was some debate as to whether the referee had disallowed the goal for offside, but it appeared that the goal had been given to make the score 7:0 for Tuvalu at half-time, which arrived just a few seconds later.

Both sides made a number of substitutions at half-time, and those made by Tongelre appeared to galvanise their team somewhat during the course of the second half, and it was they who had the first meaningful effort of the second half when, some two minutes in, their right-winger made a surging run and fired a dangerous shot across the face of Mauga Tonise's goal. 

A minute later, the ball was back down the other end of the pitch, and a botched clearance found Jelly Selau on the right-hand side, though his attempted chip reached an exposed goalkeeper without too much difficulty. Seconds later, Folitau was sent clear down the left-hand side, and his shot from an angle was well stopped by the opposing 'keeper, as was the Tuvalu man's second attempt.

Tuvalu almost grabbed their eighth goal of the evening when a Tongelre defender almost put the ball past his own goalkeeper, but the 'keeper got back in time to scramble the ball away to safety. Panapa Mafoa was put through on the hour for a one-on-one on the home goalkeeper, but his shot was hit straight at the goalkeeper, who remained static and watched as the ball bounced off his right leg and away to safety.

The Tuvalu team appeared to be doing their best to walk the ball into the Tongelre net, but any notion that things would get a little quieter for the home side's defence were shattered in the 62nd minute when Selau, himself Tuvalu's nominal national team goalkeeper, delightfully curled the ball into the left-hand side of the net from the edge of the penalty-area for his team's eighth.

There followed a period of sustained pressure from the hosts, which began when one of their half-time substitutes forced a good save from Manga in the 65th minute; this was followed in the next couple of minutes by a shot from distance which flew well wide of the Tuvalu goal, and a volley following a corner which went just over Manga's crossbar.

Another good effort from the hosts in the 71st minute was tipped round the post by Manga, but he flapped at the ball played in from the resulting corner-kick and Elo Turksma was able to stroll up and knock the ball over the line to finally give the home support something to cheer about. 

HOME BASE: RKVV Tongelre's HQ, Tongelre Sportpark

Tongelre were well worth the goal and much more, but Tuvalu were soon back on the attack with Mafoa being put through only for the goalkeeper to save his effort easily; not long after, Nelesone Musika, another half-time substitute, had the ball in the Tongelre net, but the goal was disallowed due to a foul on the goalkeeper.

Moments later, one of the home midfielders headed against the bar following a Tongelre free-kick on the left-hand side, and just after that, Mafoa was put through again only for his shot to flash just wide of the post. In the 81st minute, Folitau's shot, destined for the upper reaches of the back of the Tongelre net, was superbly palmed behind by the home goalie.

Folitau had missed a few chances during the match, but he did score Tuvalu's ninth a minute after his previous effort, when he was put through and crashed the ball home from 15 yards with the goalkeeper well beaten.

Panapa Mafoa, meanwhile, was having a second half to forget; moments after Folitau scored, the Tuvalu no. 14 rounded the goalkeeper only to stroke his shot across the face of the Tongelre goal and behind for a goal-kick. In the 85th minute, he, Folitau and Musika all had shots on goal within a few seconds of each other, with the goalkeeper eventually able to put Musika's shot behind for another corner.

Tongelre did mount another couple of attacks as the match neared its conclusion, with Manga saving well on one occasion which eventually saw the ball being scrambled clear with some difficulty.

Tuvalu almost had the last word, with Sio Silitone rambling forward and shooting over from distance, before Mafoa had another go at putting his name on the scoresheet in the first minute of injury-time and almost succeeded, only to see his side-footed effort elude the goalkeeper but not a defender who hooked the ball away a yard or so in front of the goal-line.

The match might have ended with a one-sided scoreline, but it could have ended 16:6 for the visitors, so great were the chances made (and missed) by both sides. It was a spirited second-half display from a Tongelre side consisting of a mixture of players from the club's current senior and youth sides side, representatives of the team which won a championship for Tongelre in 2000-01, and, last but certainly not least, Herman Claas' son Lennart. 

As usual, the evening ended with a display of Tuvaluan music and dance, with a set of wonderfully-sung Tuvaluan hymns added in honour of their hosts and in memory of the late Herman Claas, who would surely have enjoyed the experience.

RKVV TONGELRE (starting line-up): Thom van Unen, Lennert Claas, Willem Claas, Dylan den Brok, Yildirim Oer, Danny Lodewijks, Rob Thijsen, Efrem Davids, Roelof van Barneveld, Elo Turksma, Mark Schoufs

SUBSTITUTES: Sepp Lodewijks, Tonnie Kerkhof, Ibrahim Yilmaz, Ricardo van der Dobbbelsteen, Domique van Pirron, Florian Velthuizen, Paul Klauer

TUVALU: 1 Bill MAUGA; 2 Tieli SILAU, 15 Fatu ALEFAIO (23 Sepuli LOAHA), 18 Sio SILITONE, 24 Vaiaho NAPOE; 6 Sepe Willie NOKISI (22 Geofrey LOGO MALEKO), 8 Amatusi TELOGO PENI, 17 Taufaiva IONATANA; 7 Lutelu TIUTE (17 Nelesone MUSIKA), 11 Telava FOLITAU, 12 Alopua PETOA (14 Panapa MAFOA)
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The above match-report was written in early November 2013, but has not been published until now (apologies). The final score was listed in some quarters (on various websites and one or two fora) as being 7:1 to Tuvalu instead of 9:1; this appears to have been accepted as fact. No-one has provided direct evidence to disprove the score of 9:1, which was recorded by your correspondent in a list of results published in this blog towards the end of 2014, who was present at the match. 

However, to remove all doubt, a number of attempts were made to verify the score by contacting others who were also present at the match (and who might have seen something that your correspondent may have missed), but not even the club nor the match referee could provide any further information. If anything of importance has been missed, please forward the relevant information via the Pat's Football Blog page on Facebook.

Many thanks to the RKVV Tongelre club representative on the night for providing the team-sheets; unfortunately, there were no shirt-numbers or positional information provided for the home team.Thanks, too, to RKVV Tongelre club secretary Robert Rikken, who wasn't overly bothered whether the final score was 7:1 or 9:1, and because of the day that was in it, his viewpoint is more than valid. 

In his own words: "As far as we're concerned..the match was [principally] held in memory of our ex-chairman, Herman Claas..the match was not the most important thing." No further commentary is necessary, apart to thank to all at the club for simply being such good hosts.

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