Following the conclusion of the EPFA Nations Cup 2019, EPFA Communications Officer, Ewa Lundell, has offered her thoughts in a post event reflection.
The second EPFA Nations Cup 2019 held in Pajulahti Sports Institute, Finland has a new European champion, England.
A tremendously exciting and enjoyable tournament saw a dramatic day of concluding placing games. With four teams who had progressed from the semi finals already having secured their World Cup places, France, England, Denmark and the Republic of Ireland the final day began with a round robin decider between the hosts Finland , Austria and Northern Ireland for that final fifth place.
The Finnish and Austrians shared the first match of the day with one goal each. Northern Ireland had a scare in their first round robin match as they went a goal down in the first half but mounted a comeback and eventually secured two goals that would ultimately see them claim the final world cup ticket. Austria finished in sixth place which pleased the tournaments fair play winners who were taking part in their first major event.
The host team Finland again has grown many new admirers for their progression and learning from match to match and with such young good prospects they will grow into great challengers in the years ahead. The Bronze medal match saw even more drama with Denmark leading one nil, the Republic of Ireland equalized with minutes left in normal time to take it to extra time and again with the match poised for penalty kicks the Republic of Ireland snatched a late winner to send the green white and orange supporters into great celebrations.
With the earlier round robin match between the top two still on everyone’s minds England and France lined up for the final match of the EPFA Nations Cup, it looked like it was going to be deja vu with the defending champions taking a two nil lead until England got a goal back and then an equalizer to take the match into extra time, with no further goals the match would be decided by penalties and under enormous pressure after two penalties had been missed by France, Marcus Harrison drove up and scored the decisive penalty to send the England delegation into euphoria and tears of joy after having been contenders so many times before to have finally brought it home. Tremendous hosts, tremendous tournament and many lasting memories of the EPFA Nations Cup 2019.