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Panjab FA joined the VPG ( Virtual Pro Gaming ) Esports premier and started the season in the Conference East, 8th tier from the the top league Esports premier.
The season started on the 8th June 2020, with 12 teams in total, each playing 22 games.
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Manraj Singh Sucha has been confirmed as the new manager of Panjab FA after signing a one-year deal with the top-ranked international football team outside FIFA.
The former Panjab FA first-team coach and analyst succeeds Reuben Hazell who mutually agreed to leave his role after leading the side to a 5th place finish at the 2018 ConIFA World Football Cup in London.
Sucha becomes only the second manager in Panjab FA history, and is now looking forward to starting a new era with the team which represents the estimated 125 million Punjabi’s around the world.
Speaking exclusively to Panjab FA after receiving confirmation about landing the coveted role, Sucha says:
“It’s an honour to be named the manager of Panjab FA, and I am excited to begin this new journey. I’m so thankful and proud to have been given this opportunity [as] there is no greater honour than being able to manage your national team.”
He adds: “I want to build on the great work done by Reuben Hazell up to this point. I will work hard to develop the team and the staff to make us a stronger group and help the organisation to continue growing and making waves in football.”
Panjab FA Chairman, Harpreet Singh, meanwhile, is delighted to have such a knowledgeable, ambitious, and respected coach in charge of the Panjab National Football Team. Singh says:
“Manraj Singh Sucha has all the attributes to become a great football manager. He is a highly respected coach who is in pursuit of reaching the top of the game. He has the support of the board and we look forward to him leading from the front and bringing the best out of the national team.”
Manraj Singh will also be making changes to the backroom and coaching staff, although he remained tight-lipped on the subject, for now at least.
The new manager tells us: “I’ve been able to recruit some excellent members of staff to the team, but there remains one position yet to be filled. It is only fair to announce our new staff members once our team is complete, as we are all as important as each other.”
In 2016 Reuben Hazell led Panjab FA to the final of the ConIFA World Football Cup in Abkhazia, narrowly missing out on victory. Manraj Singh Sucha will be hoping to take the side one step further in 2020, but first he has 12 months to prove himself.
Sucha’s Panjab FA team will be coming together for the very first time at a training camp in September. A series of exciting fixtures are also in the pipeline and will be made public at an appropriate time.
Written by Keiran Samra
Panjab FA beat Cascadia on penalties, after the two sides drew 3-3 in normal time, in an unbelievable final CONIFA World Football Cup match at St Paul’s on June 9, 2018.
It was the best possible finish to a somewhat disappointing tournament for Panjab who were beaten in the Quarter Finals by Padania. The result against Cascadia means they finish the tournament in fifth place, while the North Americans come sixth.
Unfortunately, though, in the hours following the final whistle at St Paul’s, it became clear that the game was to be Reuben Hazell’s final match in charge of the Lions.
On the pitch, Hazell’s men were to do him proud for one final time on a burning hot day in London. After thrashing tournament hosts, Barawa, 5-0 in the previous round, Panjab FA began this fifth-place play-off in similar emphatic fashion despite several changes to the starting XI.
Amar and Arjun Purewal returned alongside Jhai Dhillon, and captain, Amarvir Sandhu at the expenses of Toch Singh, Taimoor Hussain, Nikinder Uppal, and Kamaljit Singh.
They were made to wait, however, as kick-off was delayed by 30 minutes due to a Cascadia kit error. The team from North America eventually came on to the pitch, albeit bizarrely in yellow bibs.
Regardless of the strange kit situation, it was an entertaining start to the game with Raajan Gill and Sufyan Zia combining well to clear a Cascadian effort off the line before Amar Purewal and Camen Bhandal came close to fashioning opportunities at the other end.
Raj Virk then opened the scoring in the 18th minute to make it 1-0 to Panjab FA. The ball broke to the attacking midfielder on the edge of the Cascadia box before he swept it cleanly in to the top corner.
Amarvir Sandhu seemed to pick up a slight knock leading to Nikinder Uppal coming on to replace the skipper. But that didn’t stem the Panjab flow of attack, and Nathan Minhas extended the lead in the 24th minute.
At just 19 years of age, N. Minhas is the youngest member of the Panjab FA squad, but the forward expertly smashed a half-volley past the Cascadia goalkeeper.
Nathan Minhas put Panjab FA three goals up ten minutes later when he slid a left footed effort underneath the onrushing De La Torre.
Cascadia had a great chance to pull one back but Calum Ferguson blazed over the bar from eight yards. Nathan Minhas then looked set to score a first-half hat-trick, but the striker unselfishly rolled it across goal to leave Amar Purewal one-on-one with the goalkeeper. The centre forward, though, hit the chance over.
Raajan Gill then ensured that Purewal didn’t pay a heavier price for his miss when the Panjab goalkeeper pulled off a stunning save to tip a fierce shot around the post for a Cascadia corner.
From the resulting set piece, though, Gill was helpless as a bullet header from Hector Morales flew into his net to make it 3-1 at half-time.
Cascadia came out for the second period back in their usual white kit, and with it, seemed like a brand-new team.
Gill tipped an effort over the bar, before a long-range drive cannoned back off the Panjab post, as Cascadia looked to up the ante.
The goal finally came in the 54th minute when Hector Morales and Calum Ferguson combined smartly to work the ball into an empty net after Gill initially did well to stop a curling shot from outside the area.
And just minutes later, the team from North America were level when Ferguson equalised. They thought they’d stolen it too when Yuri Farkas put the ball into the net, only for the linesman’s flag to rescue Panjab.
De La Torre made a crucial save to deny substitute marksman, Kamaljit Singh, from close range. And in the final seconds of the game, both Camen Bhandal and Sufyan Zia made vital blocks to deny Cascadia.
The fifth-place play-off ended 3-3 after 90 minutes, and was to be decided by penalties. Here’s how they went:
PANJAB (0-0): De La Torre gets a strong hand to deny Amar Purewal with his penalty.
CASCADIA (0-0): Raajan Gill makes a good save down low to his right.
PANJAB (0-0): Sufyan Zia smashes his spot kick off the crossbar.
CASCADIA (0-0): Gill dives to his left and blocks the Cascadia penalty. The backspin on the bouncing ball looks to put it into the net, but the goalkeeper reacts quickly to stop it again.
PANJAB (1-0): A goal at last! Raj Virk slots his effort into the bottom corner.
CASCADIA (1-1): Cascadia’s penalty finds the net after sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.
PANJAB (2-1): De La Torre gets a touch to Jhai Dhillon’s penalty, but it’s not enough and the full back scores.
CASCADIA (2-2): Gill cannot stop Cascadia from scoring their second penalty.
PANJAB (3-2): Tournament top scorer, Kamaljit Singh makes no mistake from his spot kick.
CASCADIA (3-3): A stutter in the run up deceives the Panjab goalkeeper, and Cascadia convert their fifth penalty.
PANJAB (4-3): Arjun Jung sends the goalkeeper the wrong way to put Panjab ahead in sudden-death.
CASCADIA (4-3): Raajan Gill saves the Cascadia penalty to hand Panjab FA victory in this fifth-place play-off at the 2018 CONIFA World Football Cup.
Written by Keiran Samra.
Reuben Hazell has mutually agreed to leave his role as manager of the Panjab Football Association after discussions with senior board members.
The decision takes effect immediately, meaning that Hazell coached his final game on May 9, leading his side to victory over Cascadia in the 5th place Play-Off at the 2018 CONIFA World Football Cup.
Hazell, though, departs with pride. In an official statement, he says:
“I leave with my head held high, knowing that I did all within my powers to make this a successful Football Association. I would like to thank Harpreet [Chairman of Panjab FA], the staff, and especially the players for this great venture I’ve been allowed to be a part of.”
Harpreet Singh, meanwhile, adds his gratitude to Hazell for all his work and efforts to date. He says: “I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to Reuben Hazell for setting exceptional professional standards since the inception of Panjab FA.”
Singh adds: “Throughout his time here, Reuben has carried himself with dignity and honesty. He accepted the challenge of being the first national team manager of Panjab, turning us into a very strong national team that has built an extremely credible reputation on and off the pitch. Reuben deserves great respect for the job he has done, and he leaves us with our best wishes.”
Hazell has been with Panjab FA since their establishment in 2014 and has overseen their meteoric rise in recent years. Under his guidance, Panjab FA came agonisingly close to winning the 2016 CONIFA World Football Cup before coming fifth in the 2018 edition of the tournament.
The former Oldham Athletic captain says: “Where the Panjab Football Association is now to where we started, is in a much better place. With a little more luck, we could have been CONIFA World Champions, and that is great credit to everybody who has been involved to date.”
In a final goodbye, Reuben Hazell says: “I wish Panjab FA all the best in the future. I will always take great pride in knowing that I’m a part of the Panjab FA history.”
The search is now on for a new manager, with the team looking for someone who believes they can take Panjab FA forward in line with their ambitions.
About possible candidates, Harpreet Singh says: “We aim to appoint a high-calibre figure who we believe will lead us into an exciting future. We will be making no further comment until a new managerial appointment is confirmed.”
If you think that this could be you, be sure to apply for this incredible opportunity.
Interested applicants can submit a CV and covering letter to info@PanjabFA.com.
Written by Keiran Samra.
A much-changed Panjab FA side comfortably overcame the challenge posed by host nation, Barawa, securing a comprehensive 5-0 victory at Gander Green Lane.
The win sets up a fifth/sixth place play-off against Cascadia on Saturday June 9, in what promises to be an entertaining conclusion to Panjab’s 2018 CONIFA World Football Cup.
Reuben Hazell handed Raajan Gill, Sufyan Zia, Glenvir Hayer, Taimoor Hussain, and Nikinder Uppal their first starts in this year’s competition. And with Kamaljit Singh, Rajpal Virk, and Nathan Minhas also named to start the game, it was a very attacking team.
It didn’t take long for Panjab to grab a goal either, as Kamaljit Singh slotted home after 8 minutes. Quick feet from the forward helped him dart between three Barawa challenges before firing into the bottom corner, leaving the goalkeeper helpless.
Singh’s goal was Panjab’s first from open play since the 8-0 drubbing of Kabylia on May 31, but they were made to wait for another one.
Panjab pressed for a second as Minhas, Hussain, and Uppal caused havoc in the Barawa half. But resolute defending, together with good goalkeeping from Calvin King, kept Panjab out.
There was controversy, though, midway through the first half. Firstly, the referee waved away a strong Panjab penalty appeal when Nikinder Uppal went down in the box. And then, just moments later, it looked as though Barawa had won themselves a penalty of their own.
But instead, the referee brandished a green card to Barawa’s Simon Noel for diving. This brand-new concept, which is exclusive to the 2018 CONIFA World Football Cup, means that the team must immediately substitute the green carded player.
Noel was duly substituted by his coaching staff, to be replaced by Barawa’s captain, Omar Sufi, who started the game on the bench.
The disruption, though, did little to halt the Panjab charge. Just minutes after the enforced change, Uppal blazed a good chance over the bar after Minhas found him in space on the right side of the box.
Seconds later, Kamaljit Singh flashed an effort wide of the post before Taimoor Hussain cannoned a first-time shot off the crossbar after being set up by great work from Camen Bhandal in the 37th minute.
Barawa came agonisingly close to equalising just before half time when they did well to head a deep cross back across goal. Despite players lining up to tap it in, somehow, nobody could, the ball rolled out for a goal kick.
The teams went into the break with Kamaljit Singh’s early strike being the difference, but Panjab came out in prolific form in the second period.
Nathan Minhas put Panjab in control when he coolly lobbed the ball over Calvin King soon after the restart. That was the young forward’s first goal for the side, and surely not his last, judging by his excellent technique in finishing.
King then did superbly to tip Kamaljit Singh’s driven effort around the post, before Minhas and Singh both dragged good chances wide.
Not long after, though, Singh bagged his second when he had the easiest of finishes after King could only parry Taimoor Hussain’s effort into his path a few yards out in the 65th minute.
Singh then grabbed his hat-trick when the ball once again fell kindly to him, this time after a shot from Nikinder Uppal.
A fifth goal for Panjab FA came in the dying seconds, and it was from none other than Kamaljit Singh. The forward, who was still full of energy, pressed the Barawa defence to win the ball back on the edge of their box before sliding an effort beyond the helpless Calvin King.
And that’s how it ended after 90 entertaining minutes, Panjab FA 5-0 Barawa at Gander Green Lane.
Panjab will ride high from their win to face Cascadia on June 9, as the two sides battle for 5th place in the 2018 CONIFA World Football Cup.
Written by Keiran Samra.
The current CONIFA European champions, Padania, overcame Panjab by two goals to nil to progress to the last four of the competition.
Panjab vs Padania was the pick of the 2018 CONIFA World Football Cup Quarter-Finals, in what was a repeat of the tense Semi-Final between the two sides in 2016.
It was an explosive start to the game between the two highest ranked teams in the tournament, with Padania very nearly gifting the prolific Amar Purewal an opportunity. The forward looked to latch on to Nicolo Pavan’s header back to his goalkeeper, fortunately though, the defender put just enough on it for the ball to reach Marco Murriero in goal.
Soon after, Amar’s twin brother, Arjun Purewal, sent a header flying just wide of the Padania goal after a great delivery from a Raj Virk free kick, which the midfielder had won near the half way line.
Gianluca Rolandone was booked for his challenge, and that was to set the precedent for the remainder of the game with the referee brandishing several more yellow cards to players of both teams.
The punishment for Gabriele Piantoni could have been greater when he hauled Amarvir Sandhu to the ground just as the Panjab captain looked to play Amar Purewal in on goal. Just a caution was given to the midfielder, though, and Murriero gathered the subsequent free kick comfortably.
Panjab were the better side in the early stages of the match, but Padania had a golden opportunity to grab the opening goal after 28 minutes.
The northern Italians scrambled away a Panjab free kick with the ball running to Giacomo Innocenti who flicked the ball over Toch Singh on the half way line before racing through on goal. Padania’s talisman though was denied by an excellent save by Yousuf Butt in the Panjab goal.
Butt produced another stunning save several minutes later. A beautiful passage of play between Padania’s Luca Ferri and Federico Corno ended with the latter arrowing an effort goalwards, but Panjab’s keeper was equal to it.
A scuffle broke out just before half-time when Padania players reacted angrily when Nathan Minhas was adjudged to have unfairly barged Nicolo Pavan to the floor. The referee did well to calm the situation, though, which resulted in only Minhas receiving a yellow card.
Despite Panjab going into the break being arguably the better of the two sides, it was Padania who had the two best chances of the game so far. The deadlock meant that there was still everything to play for in the second-half.
And it was Padania who came flying out of the traps in the second period. Piantoni completely mistimed his header to send a good chance well over just seconds after the restart.
Not long after, the same player arrowed Innocenti’s cross towards the Panjab goal, but Yousuf Butt produced another save to keep out the northern Italians.
There were soon to be even more goal line heroics in the 56th minute. A deep Padania cross was punched away by the Panjab goalkeeper, but fell to Innocenti who looked to volley it into an empty net. Somehow, though, Panjab’s Aran Basi threw himself in the way of the shot before Aaron Minhas hacked it away.
However, from the resulting corner Padania were awarded a penalty with Amarvir Sandhu being harshly adjudged to have clipped Padania’s Marius Stankevicius in the box.
Innocenti coolly stepped up to send Yousuf Butt the wrong way and put his side 1-0 up in this huge Quarter Final tie.
Reuben Hazell threw on Gurjit Singh, Arjun Jung, and Kamaljit Singh for Raj Virk, Toch Singh, and Nathan Minhas as Panjab looked to equalise.
Gurjit Singh brought the crowd to their feet when his quick feet weaved the ball past three Padania challenges before threading a pass through to Sandhu whose cross was blocked for a corner.
In the closing minutes, as Panjab poured men forward in search of an equaliser, a devastating counter attack led to a second Padania goal.
It looked to be a final chance for Panjab with the referee awarding them a free kick in the final minute of normal time. But their attempt to play a set piece routine was intercepted by Michele Bonfanti who then clipped a delightful ball over the top for Innocenti.
The creative midfielder drew Panjab players towards him before passing across goal for Nicolo Pavan to tap into an empty net.
And that’s how it ended, Panjab 0-2 Padania. The northern Italian side progress to the semi finals while Panjab will now face host nation, Barawa, in a placement game.
Written by Keiran Samra.
Panjab FA got what they needed in their final Group D game against the United Koreans in Japan, as a 1-1 draw put them through to the quarter finals of the 2018 CONIFA World Football Cup.
Panjab went into the game knowing that a win or a draw would be enough to secure qualification. Only a win, meanwhile, would be enough for the United Koreans to progress from Group D. It all made for a thrilling match between the two sides, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
It was a frantic start to the game with Panjab winning a first minute penalty. Arjun Purewal headed a Panjab corner back across goal, only for Arjun Jung to be bundled over ten yards out when preparing to shoot.
Gurjit Singh stepped up to take the resulting spot kick, but his attempted Panenka style penalty was palmed away by Hyogeum Lim.
The winger very nearly made amends a couple of minutes later. Amar Purewal held off a defender before laying the ball in to the path of Singh, but his first-time curling effort was again clawed away by the United Korean goalkeeper.
Amar Purewal then had a goal disallowed for offside when he rolled the ball in to the net after slipping past the opposition defence.
Despite the relentless Panjab pressure, it remained 0-0 until half time, with everything still to play for in the second period.
It was the United Koreans, though, who came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 51st minute. Yeong Jang Byun swung in a delightful delivery from a left wing free kick which Ken Taniyama headed just wide after beating Yousuf Butt to the ball in the air.
Aran Basi then went down with a hamstring injury which forced the towering centre back off the pitch, to be replaced by Sufyan Zia, who was making his first appearance in the tournament so far.
Minutes later, Ken Taniyama came close again. This time, the midfielder drove in a ferocious cross which nearly caught out the Panjab goalkeeper at the near post. Fortunately for Panjab, it bounced off the woodwork and out for a goal kick. Another let off for the lions.
With fifteen minutes to go in the match, the United Koreans were made to pay for their wastefulness in front of goal.
Nathan Minhas started a Panjab break from inside his own half, using his strength well to hold off his opponent before driving towards goal. The forward then clipped a ball out to Nikinder Uppal, the substitute took a touch before passing it inside to Jhai Dhillon who was brought down by Sunji Kim in the area.
There was never any doubt that Amar Purewal would fail to put Panjab ahead, and the striker coolly obliged by sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.
The United Koreans then threw men forward in search of the two goals they needed to qualify from Group D. And they found one in the 94th minute when Su Hyeon Mun lashed into the top corner from 25 yards for a goal of the tournament contender so far.
But there wasn’t enough time for either team to grab a winner, so that’s how it ended. The draw allowed Panjab FA to clinch second place in Group D ahead of the United Koreans in Japan who finished third.
Panjab FA will now face Padania in the quarter finals of the 2018 CONIFA World Football Cup. The tie will be a repeat of the 2016 semi final between the two sides, a game in which Panjab won by a narrow 1-0 scoreline to put them into the final against the host nation, Abkhazia.
Padania will take on Panjab at 3pm at Larges Lane, Bracknell Town on June 05, 2018, with a spot in the semi finals being the prize for the winner.
Follow the links to find us on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (panjab-fa) for more exclusive details and content. Or you can follow these links to relive Panjab’s other Group D matches against Kabylia and Western Armenia.
Written by Keiran Samra.
Panjab FA’s second game of the 2018 CONIFA World Football Cup against Western Armenia did not end as well as their opening day victory over Kabylia. Their Group D rivals snatched a crucial 1-0 win in a fiery and controversial encounter at Arbour Park, Slough.
The two teams are no strangers to each-other, having previously competed in an equally feisty 2016 World Football Cup quarter final in Abkhazia. That game ended in a 3-2 victory for Panjab but ended in unsavoury scenes as players and coaches of both sides clashed after the final whistle.
There was just one change to the Panjab team which had beaten Kabylia convincingly two days earlier. Rio Riaz came in to the side for Raj Virk to offer more steel in the Panjab midfield.
Western Armenia wasted no time in making their presence felt once again. Just seconds into the match, captain Hirtach Yagan shoved his hands into the back of Jhai Dhillon before putting them into his face as the Panjab defender attempted to take a throw in.
That was to be a sign of things to come. Barely a minute later, David Hovsepyan went down easily looking for a free kick from the referee who waved it away. With play continuing, Hovsepyan hit out at Dhillon in an off the ball incident leaving the referee to consult his assistant on the touchline.
Somehow, Hovsepyan escaped with just a booking with the referee brandishing a yellow card which had to be given to him by Panjab’s Toch Singh after the official had earlier dropped it.
It was a spicy start to this Group D clash to say the least, and the Panjab fans in the stands were making plenty of noise to support their team. But in the 14th minute, Western Armenia took the lead.
Dhillon took a quick short free kick to Gurjit Singh who was immediately surrounded by three Western Armenian players. The winger produced a sublime turn to evade the challenges before spreading the ball out to Toch Singh on the right.
Unfortunately, an awkward bounce made it difficult for the full back, and allowed Western Armenia’s Raffi Kaya to nip in. He fed the ball to Militosyan who struck an effort which deflected off Aran Basi and past Yousuf Butt in goal.
The Western Armenian team raced back to their dugout to celebrate, kissing their badge in front of the Panjab fans on their way, prompting boos from the crowd.
Another flashpoint came in the 25th minute when, once again, Panjab’s Jhai Dhillon was involved in an off the ball incident. Militosyan struck Dhillon with his arm right in front of the Panjab supporters, leading to chants of “Off, Off”. But strangely, nothing was given.
Soon after, Riaz curled a cross in to the Armenian box which was brilliantly flicked on by Arjun Purewal. The ball dropped to his fellow centre back Aran Basi who met it first time with his outstretched left foot, but Gevorg Kasparov pulled off a fantastic reaction save to tip it over.
The Western Armenian’s were then influential in convincing the referee to book Dhillon for his challenge on Artur Yedigaryan which left the winger screaming momentarily. It was clear that there was bad blood between Western Armenia and Dhillon, with several more challenges coming his way before the half-time whistle.
Western Armenia switched to a 4-4-2 for the second half, and it very nearly brought immediate reward for the team. Vicken Valenza Berberian raced through, and his rasping shot from a tight angle cannoned off the Panjab post.
Amar Purewal then completely bamboozled Rafael Safaryan whose hard and late sliding challenge was closer to hitting the linesman than the Panjab striker. Despite the force of the attempted tackle, no card was shown to the defender, much to the annoyance of the vocal Panjab supporters.
Arjun Jung and Rajpal Virk then came on for Panjab with just over half an hour to play, with the duo replacing Rio Riaz and Camen Bhandal.
Bookings continued to come Western Armenia’s way, but so did chances. Yedigaryan’s free kick had to be parried away by an unsighted Yousuf Butt with the ball only needing a touch to be put beyond the goalkeeper.
David Azin then went into the book, for a late foul on who other but Jhai Dhillon. Zaven Varjabetyan then sliced a good chance horribly wide after a neat one-two.
Amarvir Sandhu then produced a moment of magic to weave through three Western Armenia challenges before passing across the six yard box, but nobody in a yellow shirt was there to convert the ball home for Panjab.
With Panjab FA struggling to create clear-cut chances, manager, Reuben Hazell, threw on Nathan Minhas and Kamaljit Singh for Amar Purewal and Toch Singh with fifteen minutes left.
Panjab’s opponents defended resolutely for the remainder of the match, leaving it to end in a 1-0 defeat for the UK based team.
Western Armenia currently top Group D of the 2018 CONIFA World Football Cup ahead of the final round of fixtures due to take place on Sunday 03 June.
The present group leaders will take-on Kabylia, looking to cement their top spot. Panjab, meanwhile, will face United Koreans in Japan in a must-win encounter for both sides.
Panjab FA vs United Koreans in Japan will take place at 6pm at Arbour Park, Slough. Tickets are £12 at the gate, will you be coming along to help roar your Lions to victory?
You can also watch a full replay of Panjab FA vs Western Armenia by following this link.
Written by Keiran Samra.
Panjab FA kicked off their 2018 CONIFA World Football Cup with a resounding 8-0 win over Kabylia at Arbour Park, Slough, on Thursday May 31.
Amarvir Sandhu, Gurjit Singh, Amar Purewal, and substitute, Kamaljit Singh all scored two goals each to help Panjab cruise to victory in their first Group D game.
Western Armenia and United Koreans in Japan had earlier played out a 0-0 draw in the other group stage fixture. So, Panjab FA went into the match knowing that a victory would put them in firm control of Group D of the 2018 CONIFA World Football Cup.
But it was far from a simple start for Panjab. Kabylia began well, enjoying slightly more possession in the early stages, and even had the ball in the net just five minutes in.
Sami Boudia appeared to have put the CONIFA World Football Cup debutants ahead when he rolled the ball into an empty net having gone past Panjab’s Yousuf Butt in goal. However, the referee had blown his whistle for offside well before. And rather than a goal, Boudia received a stern talking to for continuing play and kicking the ball away.
That early scare looked to help Panjab settle into the game.
Soon after, Raj Virk sent a menacing free-kick into the Kabylia box, which goalkeeper, Rahim Belaid, initially dropped. Nobody could react quick enough, though, and Belaid gathered at the second attempt.
Midway through the first half, Gaz Singh’s intelligent dummy allowed the ball to run through to Jhai Dhillon on the left-hand side. The full back sent in a wonderful first-time delivery which fell to Virk ten yards out. But Kabylia’s goalkeeper, together with their captain, Khelifa Drider, somehow diverted Virk’s fierce effort away from goal.
Two minutes later, though, Panjab were ahead.
In the 24th minute, Virk had the ball in the right corner, before drifting inside majestically. He slipped the ball through the legs of Idir Belasa, before arrowing a pass towards the penalty spot where Panjab’s captain, Amarvir Sandhu struck a powerful first-time effort into the net courtesy of the crossbar.
The North African team, though, responded well to falling behind. Yanis Kemache fired a free-kick just inches wide of the Panjab goal, before Yousuf Butt produced a stunning one-handed save to deny Ilyas Hadid from scoring a curling effort.
Panjab FA doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time when the prolific Amar Purewal was given the simplest of finishes after some good play by captain, Amarvir Sandhu.
While the first-half brought about chances for both sides, the second period belonged completely to Panjab FA.
Arjun Purewal headed just wide from a Raj Virk free-kick before the marauding left-back, Jhai Dhillon, won a penalty for his side in the 51st minute.
Gaz Singh’s strike from 12 yards was perfectly placed in the bottom left corner, beating Rahim Belaid who guessed the right way.
Just seconds later, Amarvir Sandhu headed his team 4-0 ahead from a Gurjit Singh cross, and left Kabylia needing a miracle to get a positive result on their tournament debut.
But Panjab FA were now at their devastating best, and chances continued to come their way.
In stark contrast, Kabylia were tiring quickly from the pressure they were being put under. The hard-working Sami Boudia went down with cramp, and just moments after getting up, he saw his side fall further behind.
Sandhu produced more excellent work on the right side before feeding the ball to his overlapping teammate, Toch Singh. The full-back then fired the ball into the box for Amar Purewal to smash in and make it Panjab FA 5-0 Kabylia.
Jhai Dhillon and Amar Purewal both had chances to extend Panjab’s lead before manager, Reuben Hazell made changes.
Purewal was denied the chance of getting himself a hat-trick when he was replaced by Kamaljit Singh after 70 minutes. Rajpal Virk and Camen Bhandal were also replaced by Rio Riaz and Arjun Jung, respectively.
And it didn’t take long for the substitute Kamaljit Singh to get in on the goalscoring action after he chested down Gurjit ‘Gaz’ Singh’s cross before smashing in from seven yards.
Sami Boudia very nearly capitalised on some mis-control from Arjun Jung on the edge of his own area, but Yousuf Butt produced another incredible save, this time with his outstretched left leg.
Amarvir Sandhu came off to warm applause from the crowd with ten minutes to play, with Taimoor Hussain replacing the skipper.
Just seconds later, Kamaljit Singh scored his second. Gaz Singh danced through Kabylia challenges before playing a neat one-two with Rio Riaz. He then squeezed through a ball for Kamaljit Singh to smash home Panjab’s seventh goal.
Kamaljit Singh thought he had a hat-trick when he tapped home Gaz Singh’s effort which had bounced off the post on 88 minutes. But his celebrations were cut short when he turned to see the linesman’s flag up for offside.
A ruthless Panjab FA team, though, did have an eighth goal with virtually the final kick of the game. Kamaljit Singh turned to slide an exquisite ball through for Gaz Singh, who beat the keeper to it, taking it around him effortlessly before rolling the ball into the net.
And that’s how it finished, Panjab FA 8-0 Kabylia. It was a sensational start to the 2018 ConIFA World Football Cup in London for the Panjab team. Following this incredible win, they will have every confidence of going one step further than they did two years ago in Abkhazia.
Make sure you keep up with their incredible journey by watching them live in stadiums around the English capital. Follow this link for official ticketing information. You can also watch a full replay of Panjab FA vs Kabylia here.
Written by Keiran Samra.
In the final preparation game before the first game of the ConIFA World Football Cup group games kick off on the 31st May 2018 vs Kabylia, Panjab will play Dhaka Akadash R.C, a team from South Asia full of Bangladeshi national team players.
We look forward to welcoming our guests from South Asia as football continues to bring people together.
Panjab vs Dhaka Akadash R.C.
Venue: Slough Town FC, Arbour Park, SL2 5AY
Tickets: Click here