With no VIVA World Cup and only four teams contesting the Island Games the Tynwald Hill International Tournament will take the non-FIFA centre-stage this summer. Kicking off next week four N.F.-Board members, Occitania, Tamil Eelam, Raetia and Sealand, will be joined by Island Games Association side Alderney and Isle of Man Premier League side St Johns United in two groups of three.
The club side will host all matches at their Mullen-e-Cloie ground which has undergone significant developments, including a new suite and stand, just for the tournament. The Tynwald takes its name from a hill in the centre of St Johns where, once a year, the islanders celebrate the world’s oldest parliament by descending on the village to watch the isle’s legislature meet.
This national day of Manx culture takes places during the competition and co-organiser Malcolm Blackburn believes it will have a big effect on the crowds ‘I’d be hopeful of at least 2,000 fans coming for the matches on the day of the Tynwald celebrations’.
St Johns had initially tried to represent the island at the biennial Island Games in Bermuda this summer. The idea was dismissed by the Isle of Man FA and St Johns consequently got contacted by us about a potential tournament.
Numerous N.F.-Board members will be on the island on the Saturday with a meeting arranged to confirm the future of the organisation, which looks set to shut down and rebrand with new leadership.
|Narrow...Occitània exiting the 2012 VIVA against Kurdistan|
Occitània – After missing out on a semi-final place at the VIVA World Cup last summer on goal difference the Occitans start the Tynwald Hill Tournament as strong favourites to lift the trophy on July 7th. Led by the flair of captain Boris Massaré (who we interviewed here) the side are good keepers of the ball and have an experienced team. Massaré plays in the Danish Second Division for Kjellerup IF and is part of a strong midfield which includes Jordan Amiel and Bastien Cantier.
Renaud Thomas of French fourth-tier US Le Pontet is important in defence and forward trio Guillaume Lafuente, Brice Martinez and Nicolas Flourens have scored 10 international goals in 15 games between them. Their mix of semi and ex-professionals will be camping at the stadium during the event with Massaré explaining “it will be good for team spirit and bonding”.
NFFU predicts – 1st.
|Impact...Gunn (centre) after penalties win on Alderney|
Paul Beiboer is set to start in midfield with Ben Chick and Ken Hagan, semi-professionals and England University players, likely to carry much of the attacking threat. Defender Christian Gunn explained “it’s a really tough group but we feel we can make an impact”. The Seals will be coached by former West Ham and Liverpool defender Julian Dicks during the tournament.
NFFU predicts – 5th.
Tamil Eelam – The Asian side made their international debut at the 2012 VIVA World Cup and once again their squad is drawn from Tamil diaspora around the world. This summer sees players from no less than 9 countries called up by manager Ragesh Nambiar after trials across the world were held. The Tamils lost 7-0 to Occitània last summer but Nambiar feels this time around they will be improved “our tactics are different now and we will be more attacking”.
|Anthem...Tamil Eelam lineup before a VIVA World Cup game|
NFFU predicts – 3rd.
St Johns United – The only club side competing St Johns United finished 6th in the Isle of Man Premier Division last season. Managed by Isle of Man national team legend Nick Hurt the squad have been training intensively ahead of the tournament.
Hurt has also been named as a midfielder in the squad along with the talented Krasimir Stoev, a former professional in Montenegro. Striker Stephen Glover will be the main source of goals for the hosts who are expected to be supported well by the Manx public. At 40 John Wriggley will be the oldest player at the tournament.
NFFU predicts – 2nd.
Alderney - Alderney are members of the Island Games Association and competed for the second time in the most recent finals on the Isle of Wight in 2011. At that event they were outclassed by newly elected UEFA members Gibraltar, the hosts, Anglesey and the Falkland Islands. Captain Andy Lawrence, who turned down the opportunity to represent the island in Bermuda at golf to play, is looking forward to what he feels will be closer competition this summer ‘I’ve seen that Raetia are below us in the non-FIFA rankings so it’ll be nice to know we have a chance of winning’.
We interviewed him here. Josh Concanen, a semi-professional with Southern League Tiverton Town, is one of three players not based on the island and brother Steve has represented Guernsey before. he experienced Jason Atkins is crucial in defence and veteran goalkeeper Paul Williams has come out of retirement. Injuries may take their toll on the team.
NFFU predicts – 6th
|VIVA...Raetia celebrate a late win over Tamil Eelam|
A strong defence will be marshalled by player-manager Alexandro Del Rio and joint record-caps holder Simone Fontana. FA Raetia secretary Yacine Azzouz told us “we are confident we can challenge every team at the finals". Likely to be greatly improved since last summer the Raetians could be dark-horses at the Tynwald. They will play fellow N.F.-Board side Saugeais on Saturday as part of the preparation and you can read our preview of that game here.
NFFU predicts – 4th