Finns Brave, but Peace Team too strong

Sunday, September 07 2008 @ 01:03 pm ACST

Contributed by: Aaron Richard

A tired and battered Finnish side fought bravely to the end on Friday, with almost the entire squad either injured, battling the flu, or both. With the bare minimum 18 on the field, the Icebreakers ended their first International Cup campaign with a 12-goal loss to the Peace Team, but never gave up.

The Peace Team were also looking battered, with broken noses, sore knees and strapped shoulders, but the mood in Dipper's camp was extremely buoyant right from the opening bounce, with a few new fans making the trip up from Warrnambool and plenty of noise and smiles from the first middle-eastern squad to appear at an International Cup.

The first quarter saw the Peace Team do most of the attacking, with Naseem Al-Manasra marking in the pocket and slotting the ball through for a major, and co-captain Kamal Abualthom having plenty of the ball in the forward line. By quarter time, the Peace Team had amassed 5 goals 2, with Finland's only score of the term a goal after the siren to Tommi Oksanen.

In the huddle, Finland's coaches implored the Icebreakers to keep playing tight on the Peace Team, particularly being watchful of the faster Peace Team playing on from free kicks and marks and getting the jump on their Finnish opponents.

The second quarter saw the game tighten, with big Jalmari Viima and Irish-Finn Keith Byrne taking strong marks across the ground. The Finns found it hard to hit their targets when in possession however, remaining scoreless for the quarter while the Peace Team scored another two goals through Abualthom and Abuhaduan.

Dipper was very upbeat at the Peace Team's halftime huddle, telling his charges they looked like they'd been playing for years. The mood was boosted even further by the news that Shai Bratner's daughter had been born the previous night.

The third quarter saw the Peace Team come out firing, with a roving goal on the run from 35m by Yonatan Belik. Kfir Kol, sporting a heavily bandaged broken nose, took a strong pack mark in the goal square to put through the second of the quarter.

The Finns got one back through Tate Heiskanen, who marked at half-forward, played on and kicked a long goal that cleared the pack and bounced across the line. Perrtu Hakala, Ville Koivunen continued to work hard through the term, Koivunen giving his all despite looking very bruised.

The Peace Team finished the quarter with a brilliant rover's goal to Moshe Lagisha, who gathered and coverted on the run, seeing the third quarter finish with the Peace Team leading 76-13.

At the last break, the Finns stated they needed to work on link-ups, as while they were getting plenty of the ball, it was proving hard to string a few passes together.

The last term was however more of the same, with the Finns battling hard but unable to break through the Peace Team's running brigade other than for a late behind. Final scores Peres Peace Team 14.5 (89) to Finland 2.2 (14)

Although it's been a tough tournament for the Finns, they impressed the crowd at every game with their tenacity and never-say-die attitude. Coach Izzy Barker said he felt the boys had come away from the tournament with a lot of positive experience, saying the matches were as hard as he'd expected and that the Finns' courage had been tested and they'd pulled through. As a new side at the Cup, the Finns were something of an unknown quantity, but there's plenty to indicate that when we see the Icebreakers again, they'll be stronger and more experienced and will probably have a few more players to call on. This time though - 14th.

For the Peace Team's part, the next test could be to see if this can start something permanent in Israel and Palestine, or whether the team disappears again. There are plenty of Israelis and Palestinians with family ties to Australia, including some of the Peace Team players. However, footy in the area has never gone past the level of informal games with whoever can play on a given weekend. Here's hoping this could be the start of something big in the region. For now - 13th at their first International Cup.


FinlandPeace Team
1.0 (6)1/45.2 (32)
1.0 (6)1/27.3 (45)
2.1 (13)3/412.4 (76)
2.2 (14)Full14.5 (89)

Goals: Heiskanen, Oksanen
Best: Koivunen, Loven, Byrne, Heikkila, Romar, Doherty

Peace Team
Goals: Nadir 2, Abualthom 2, Belik 2, Almanasra 2, Rumman 2, Haim, Abu Aduan, Kol, Koke
Best: Nadir, Suissa, Haim, Kandel, Tamimi, Abualthom

Plenty of media still on hand for the Peace Team.

Ruck contest.

Finnish player launches into a kick.

Peace Team player kicks.

Perhaps the bravery of the Peace Team is best demonstrated by their willingness to throw coach and overall "solid unit" Robert DiPierdomenico in the air!

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