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Sunday 16 Jul 2023
Northern Ireland finish eighth at Homeless World Cup

Northern Ireland finished eighth overall out of 28 men’s teams at this year’s Homeless World Cup.

Across two group stages and play-off matches in the USA they won seven and lost five, scoring plenty of goals along the way.

Eighth represents Northern Ireland’s highest ever overall position at the annual four-a-side tournament, which this year was staged at California State University’s Hornet Football Stadium in Sacramento. Their previous best was 12th in 2017.

Northern Ireland goalie Jonny Holland picked up the award for best goalkeeper at the 2023 Homeless World Cup, beating 27 other keepers to the accolade.

In the first group stage the team, coached by Terry Moore and Justin McMinn, enjoyed wins over Switzerland (9-0), Greece (8-2), Costa Rica (4-1), Norway (7-2) and Finland (6-1). Their only defeat came against Portugal (6-2).

In stage two of the competition - it is run annually by the UK-based Homeless World Cup Foundation - they defeated Austria (9-1) and Poland (5-3) and lost out narrowly to Mexico (4-3), who were eventually defeated in the final of the tournament by Chile.

The boys in green and white met Portugal again in the quarter-finals but lost on penalties after the game ended 3-3 in regulation time.

In the first of two games to determine an overall placing between fifth and eighth they were defeated 5-1 by Costa Rica, who finished fifth overall.

And in their final game at the tournament they took on Lithuania to see who would finish seventh or eighth overall. The Lithuanians won it on a 6-5 scoreline.

Street Soccer NI, a charity working with homeless people and disadvantaged groups across Northern Ireland, put the eight-strong Northern Ireland squad together. Team NI were supported this year by Simon Community NI, Choice Housing, Nationwide and the Irish FA Foundation among others.

The players who made history in Sacramento were: Amin Jalali, Jonny Holland, Alfred Quansah, Caoimhinn Gallagher, Osama Almahmoud, Michael Devlin, Thomas Brown and Talal Alsakkaf.