2021 FMF World Cup Final
|Event||2021 FMF World Cup|
|Date||15 August 2021|
|Venue||Sports City, Northcliff|
|Man of the Match||Rhys Chase|
The 2021 FMF World Cup Final was the final match of the 2021 FMF World Cup, the 13th edition of the FMF's premier competition for national football teams. The match was played at Sports City in Northcliff, Floria, on 15 August 2021, and was contested by Floria and Craitland. The tournament comprised hosts Floria, reigning champions Senya, and 18 other teams which emerged from the qualification phase, organised by the four FMF confederations. The 20 teams competed in a group stage, from which twelve teams qualified for the knockout stages. En route to the final, Floria topped Group A by winning all but one game, after which they defeated Lamantia in the quarter-finals, and then Senya in the semi-finals. Craitland went unbeaten in Group C, before proceeding to beat Thracistan in the quarter-finals, followed by Meckelnburgh in the semi-finals.
The final had one goal scored by Floria's Rhys Chase, whose run into the box gave him an opportunity to leap and connect his head with Kylian Saint-Pierre's cross before both sides evenly matched out towards the end.
Floria's win meant that the nation secured its first ever World Cup title while Craitland lost their first ever final, having won all four of their previous finals, with the last win dating back to 2011. Chase was named man of the match, while his compatriot Patrick Williams was named as the tournament's best player. This final also marked the ninth match in which the losing team did not score any goals out of 13 finals in the tournament's history.
The 2021 FMF World Cup was the 13th edition of the FMF World Cup and was held in Floria from 10 July to 15 August 2021. Floria qualified automatically as hosts, as did Senya after they won the previous edition, while 86 teams competed for the remaining 18 spots through qualifying rounds organised by the four FMF confederations. In the finals, teams were divided into four groups of five with each team playing each other once in a round-robin format. The group winners would automatically qualify for the quarter-finals while the second- and third-ranked teams of each group would advance to the play-off round to play for a spot in the quarter-finals.
Floria had only played in one World Cup prior to the 2021 tournament, in 2019, although playing as the Florian Republic, where they lost out to Senya in the quarter-finals. They also played in the 2018 Copa Apollonia and finished third in their début campaign before winning the 2020 edition. Craitland came into 2021 as a veteran in the competition having participated in every edition since 2006, winning four titles; their worst result being quarter-finalists on four occasions. Craitland were also past EMU Championships winners having won the 2011 edition, which they hosted, before switching to the WMFA where they had also won the Benacia Cup in 2018.
The official match ball for the final was provided by Farrar Sports and featured red and black circular strokes on a predominantly white ball.
The final was held in Sports City, in Northcliff, located in the Kingsland state, which was selected by the FMF Executives as the final venue. The stadium also hosted five other matches at the tournament, including the opening match, three other group stage matches, and one semi-final match.
Route to the final
Floria entered as one of the favourites to win the whole tournament after their 2020 Copa Apollonia victory, qualifying automatically for the finals as hosts, where they were drawn against Passas, Calbion, Alduria, and Tellia. Their opening match against Passas was held in Northcliff in Sports City stadium on 10 July. The Florians kicked off their World Cup campaign in a 3–0 victory against Passas where it took almost an hour for the deadlock to be broken with Sam Butcher scoring just 15 yards away from goal. Floria would triple their lead later on when Dave Wheeler scored an incredible solo goal and Kylian Saint-Pierre pounced on a Timothy Johnson mistake in a man-of-the-match performance. The hosts continued on this incredible form against Calbion when Patrick Williams nodded one in during a set-piece assisted by Saint-Pierre, who missed a penalty later on in the match. Floria kept their winning streak going into their third match against Alduria who caused alarms as Javier de la Fuente put his side up in the middle of the first half but defensive complacencies from the Aldurians allowed two curled goals from Kian Wright to confirm qualification to the quarter-finals. With one more group stage match left to play, the Florians matched up against Tellia in a defeat with goals scored by Marko Zajc and Gianluca Salmoiraghi. Nonetheless, Floria qualified to the quarter-finals with Lamantia to face.
In the quarter-finals, Floria matched up against fellow AEFA member Lamantia. As expected, the hosts took first blood when Saint-Pierre faked out Matthias Sagner and whipped in a cross for Butcher to head home ten minutes before scoring his second. Cristiano Ramirez's corner wasn't cleared, allowing Wheeler to pass it back to his captain who crossed it in on his second attempt allowing Butcher to head in his brace. Floria were not let off the hook just yet as minutes later when Sven Ebersbascher's long-range hit slammed into the top corner. Ultimately, Floria held on strong and proceeded into the semi-finals, matching-up against defending champions Senya who broke Florian hearts in 2019. Having lost 2–1 in 2019, Floria beat the Senyans by the same scoreline with captain Cristiano Ramirez scoring his first goals of the 2021 campaign: his first being a freekick from over 30 yards and his second off an Alex Mound header. Like the quarter-finals, however, Floria could not keep their clean sheet intact when Alesandrœ Danetskë's last ditch effort swerved into the bottom corner with minutes to play. In the end, Floria ended up victorious and headed into the final for the first time in their history.
|1||North Antarctic Domain||5–0|
Craitland were also one of the favourites to win the tournament as four-time champions, having gone unbeaten during their qualifying phase and winning all their matches in WMFA's Group A. Their opener was against the North Antarctic Domain in group C. The Craits opened the scoring in as early as four minutes thanks to Ĵulian Ólsen's freekick, and it didn't take long for them to double the scoring when Jan-Morteņ Juliaĵsen smartly finished into the bottom right corner. It took only three minutes for the Craits to add on another to their tally when Juan Pellegrino headed in to mark his first goal of the campaign. Craitland were awarded a penalty minutes later, which Will Zóma converted. Daniel Hjansen scored the last goal of the game as he drove into the box to punish the opponents' lack of defensive ability. As if the Domain weren't being outplayed enough, they saw themselves ending the match with ten men when defender Makoun Makwandire was given his marching orders, having received a second yellow for dragging down Alexis Pellegrino. While the Craits were on good form, they were brought back down to reality by opponents Meckelnburgh for their second game of the tournament when Cecil Spear scored from the penalty spot, and to add on to his earlier goal, Spear was on the end of a mistimed tackle which got Daniel Hjansen sent off. Craitland started getting back into the game only towards the end and managed to secure an equaliser through Dräsen Isrdlvarien's volley off substitute Lydveldt Jonmikeltsen's pass, ending the game 1–1. Craitland had their third match of the group against the Unified Governorates. Craitland yet again had an early two goals through Juliaĵsen and Zóma, but had eyebrows raised when Harold Forester headed one back and Paul Halbedan tapped one in within three minutes to level. Craitland took some time to recover the deficit near the third quarter mark when Juliaĵsen drove into the box unmarked for his brace. Likewise, Zóma secured his brace having run past the Benacian defence to win the game 4–2. Craitland's final group stage match was against The Hexarchy. Yet again, it was early days for Craitland thanks to a penalty which Zóma converted. Their lead wouldn't last long, however, when Balshazzar Bel-Dagon headed in the equaliser off a freekick. Craitland would grab their lead back again late in the game thanks to goals by Juliaĵsen and Juan to ensure they qualified for the knockout stages again.
The quarter-finals would see Craitland matched up against play-off winners from Group B, Thracistan. Craitland would take the lead in 18 minutes courtesy of Zóma linking up with Juliaĵsen. It would be that pair-up that helped to score Craitland's second goal as Zóma notched his sixth of the campaign with Juliaĵsen as his provider yet again. It was then a hattrick of goal contributions for the two forwards as this time Zóma chipped a ball into the defence for Juliaĵsen to completely kill the game off as Craitland earnt their second clean sheet and moved into the semi-finals. Craitland would meet familiar face Meckelnburgh in the semi-finals, having met them in the group stage earlier in the competition. Just like their match in Group C, both sides were evenly matched up and were looking to bring the tie into extra time until the last minute of normal time when Juan lobbed the ball into the path of Zóma, who collided with the onrushing Dylan Long. Despite that, Zóma's tap-in trickled into the goal mouth to send his side into the fifth World Cup final in their history.
Floria kicked off the match on 15 August 2021 in front of thousands of spectators. Craitland had the first chance of the game in the fifth minute when Juliaĵsen drove past Patrick Williams, striking it to the hands of Tom Ward who collapsed onto the ball. Floria nearly took the lead in the 18th minute as well when Ramirez's header found Alex Mound who just could not get the right contact as his header went just clear off the post. It wouldn't take them long to score, however, when three minutes later in the 21st minute, Saint-Pierre drove past Daniel Hjansen before shifting to his right to cross into the box onto the head of Rhys Chase who managed to flick his header past Francis Hjansen to open the scoring in the final. Craitland came close to equalising in the 25th minute when Ben Hjyngmost's cross found Juliaĵsen, who headed it onto the post. Craitland came itching yet again in the 30th minute with some great passing amongst Zóma and Juliaĵsen, who had his shot parried past the post by Ward while İlker Keremov's shot following the corner just missed the goal by inches. Juliaĵsen tried to curl one in in the 34th minute but was stopped by Ward yet again who held firmly onto the ball. A few crosses from both sides led to nothing as the half ended with Floria leading 1–0. In the 51st minute, Floria came knocking on Craitland's door as a cross was swung into the box for Butcher, who just hit his header over the bar. Some awkward defending from the Craits led to Butcher nearly scoring the second of the game in the 66th minute but it was saved by Francis Hjansen. Despite Craitland's offensive and defensive showings throughout the match, they weren't able to beat the Florian defence as Floria won the first ever FMF World Cup in their history.
Man of the Match:
Floria became the eighth country to win the FMF World Cup and only the second to win it while hosting the tournament after Alexandria in 2009. Floria had also won their third international trophy in a row after the 2020 Copa Apollonia and the 2020–21 Raspur Pact Nations League. Floria not only became just the second ever AEFA nation to win the World Cup, but also the second ever nation from Apollonia to achieve the feat. Floria also become the sixth nation to keep a clean sheet in the final on the ninth instance of such. In the end, Rhys Chase's goal marked the 163rd goal of the tournament, making it the second-highest scoring edition in the tournament's history.
Chase was named man of the match while teammate Patrick Williams was named as the tournament's best player, having recorded three clean sheets as one of the best defenders in the campaign. Will Zóma won the golden boot award with seven goals, with Mercury's Joe Foxon winning the silver boot with six and Jan-Morteņ Juliaĵsen winning the bronze boot with five goals. Foxon's six goals in the tournament's campaign also meant that he surpassed Łukasz Dąbrowski to become the World Cup's third all time goalscorer at 35 goals. Calbion's Evan Dexter become the de facto best goalkeeper of the tournament after being named in the Team of the Tournament, recording three clean sheets and saving multiple penalty kicks. Both Bradley Russell and Pierre Lemaire were named in the Team of the Tournament at age 20, deeming them the tournament's best young players.
Celebrations erupted back in Floria, most notably in the capital city Northcliff where the final also took place. The national team had a bus parade in Northcliff a few days after the tournament ended, where millions of fans attended. In their subsequent international tournaments, Floria were eliminated by Senya in the semi-finals of the 2022 Copa Apollonia, while Craitland ended up winning a second Benacia Cup also in the following year.