Tamil Eelam before their victory over West Papua last month. (Photograph: Pat McGuinness)
Tamil Eelam FA will be among the 16 teams competing in the 2020 Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA) World Football Cup, after an impressing double victory in the qualifiers powered the team through to the tournament.
The team played two CONIFA World Football 2020 qualifiers in December against East Turkistan and West Papua. Victory in both games saw Tamil Eelam gain enough points to qualify for the 2020 World Football Cup taking place between 30 May - 7 June 2020 in Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia.
The game against East Turkistan took place on Saturday 14th December 2019 in Paris, with a large fan turnout for both teams cheering them on at kick off. The first ten minutes was fairly even with both teams struggling to maintain possession for long periods. Steven, Thomas A and Panu had a fantastic game in midfield against Yorkshire the month before, and once more began to assert themselves as the game progressed. Tamil Eelam started to create clear chances midway through the first half and East Turkistan struggled to keep up their press. East Turkistan threatened the goal with a couple of plays, but were unable to regularly create chances. Prash scored the first goal for Tamil Eelam with a neat finish into the bottom left corner and Agash, making his debut, got the second with some neat footwork in the penalty area. Tamil Eelam finished the first half with a 2-0 lead and started the second half strongly with Agash doubling his tally, before making way for Kirushan. Tamil Eelam made a few other changes with Mayooran C, Kasthuran, Thomas T and Senthuran all coming on as substitutes, spurring the team on to a stronger victory. Senthuran scored two more in his second game for Tamil Eelam, to make the final score 5 - 0.
The game against West Papua was the last qualifier for Tamil Eelam, taking place on Saturday 21st December 2019 in The Hague, Netherlands. This was West Papua’s second game and they struggled to compete throughout the game against a Tamil Eelam team that were clearly raring to score. Tamil Eelam dominated the game and were able to create chances that were plentiful. Ninon, making his third appearance for Tamil Eelam was a solid presence and has performed consistently in both qualifiers. Senthuran scored 4 goals in this game, with the other goals coming from Nirun, Kasthuran, Steven and Thomas T. There were debuts for Shara, Jerome, Niro, Manojan and Kisi. West Papua did manage to gave small spells of possession and neatly converted two of their chances, but were roundly defeated by Tamil Eelam, with a final score of 10 - 2.
Adding to their victory over Yorkshire in a pulsating encounter at the Ingfield Stadium in Ossett in October, Tamil Eelam are one of the three teams from Asia to qualify for the tournament. The team will be seeking a strong showing after their impressive qualifying campaign. “Our squad has been playing great football,” said Tamil Eelam FA Manager Ragesh Nambiar. “We showed energy, teamwork and passion.”
“The whole team, made up of players from around the world, is looking forward to the tournament and we hope to make our nation proud.”
Here are the other teams that have also qualified.