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Wednesday 17 Apr 2024
CP team reach World Championships final

Northern Ireland’s Cerebral Palsy team have reached the final of the CP Men’s World Championships.

Alan Crooks’ side won three out of four games in a round-robin group stage to secure a place in the decider, which is being staged tomorrow (18 April).

The Men’s World Championships, which are being held in Salou in Spain, are organised by the International Federation of CP Football. They are for teams ranked 17 to 32 in the world ranking list.

Northern Ireland (ranked 20th in the world) secured their place in the final against Scotland (17th) thanks to wins over South Korea (24th), Italy (19th) and Chile (18th). Their only defeat in the group stage came against the Scots.

A 5-1 victory over Chile yesterday at the Futbol Salou complex saw them finish second in the group behind Scotland on goal difference. The Scots also enjoyed three wins out of four. Their defeat came against the Italians.

Northern Ireland started the game against Chile on the front foot. They opened the scoring after five minutes when Ryan Walker forced an error from Chilean defender Saavedra, who turned the ball into his own net.

Ryan Walker blasted the ball over the top from 12 yards, following a fine run, before Chile tested keeper Paul Cassidy with a couple of long range efforts.

It was Northern Ireland who scored next though with David Leavy notching his third goal of the competition with another sweet finish.

Crooks’ team were outstanding in the second half, dominating possession and creating several goalscoring opportunities.

Walker produced a great finish to make it 3-0, however Chile quickly pulled a goal back through Diaz.

The win was effectively secured on 55 minutes when Ryan Walker finished off a slick move with an audacious flick past the stranded goalkeeper to make it 4-1. Then, fittingly, all-action captain Jordan Walker rounded off the scoring with a fine finish.

Northern Ireland put in a good performance against tomorrow’s opponents in their first group game, particularly in the first half, despite losing 3-0.

Charley Emerson and Ryan Walker both missed good chances for Northern Ireland before the Scots took the lead on 25 minutes through a powerful header from Martin Hickman.

Scotland were the better team in the second half and ran out worthy winners with Hickman adding another two goals from long range strikes to complete his hat-trick.

On matchday two Northern Ireland deservedly defeated the Italians by a goal to nil.

Northern Ireland had the majority of possession and created the better chances.

The goal came late in the second half from Leavy, who finished neatly from the edge of the area. Emerson provided the assist.

South Korea were swept aside in Northern Ireland’s third group game.

The Koreans took an early lead through Jongwoon Choi, who scored with a brilliant long range effort.

Northern Ireland had 18 shots to Korea’s one in the first half but failed to hit the target with the majority of them. However, Ryan Walker did manage to bundle the ball home on the stroke of half-time to level things up.

With skipper Jordan Walker controlling the game in central midfield, and setting up several attacks, Northern Ireland produced the goods in the second half. Ryan Walker scored another three, while Leavy produced a sublime finish from the edge of the area. The game ended 5-1 in Northern Ireland’s favour.

If they can keep Scotland striker Martin Hickman - he is the tournament’s top scorer - quiet in tomorrow’s decider then they have a good chance of bringing home the silverware. The game kicks off in Salou at 12.30pm CET (11.30am BST) and it is being shown live on the IFCPF Youtube channel.

A win in the final would boost Northern Ireland’s chances of reaching the 2024 IFCPF World Cup (top 16 countries in the world). It is being staged in the same venue in Spain this November.

Northern Ireland CP squad: Paul Cassidy (GK) (Belfast), Charlie Fogarty (Birmingham), Oisin McGurk (Magherafelt), Jordan Walker (captain) (Belfast), Sean Coyle (Coleraine), Jordan Cush (Belfast), David Leavy (Castlewellan), Declan McDonnell (Belfast), Ryan Walker (Armagh), Charley Emerson (Belfast), Finn Mullan (Carrickfergus).

Image: Northern Ireland captain Jordan Walker has been leading by example at the CP Men’s World Championships.