Team GB’s open football team suffered a dramatic penalty shoot-out defeat on Sunday morning as Maccabi France retained the European Maccabi Football trophy.
The lottery of the penalty shoot-out resulted in an all too familiar outcome for an English football team as Yoav Kestenbaum’s miss sent Les Blues to a the most dramatic of wins at Rowley Lane.
Admitting the loss left “a bitter taste in the mouth”, joint-manager Jonathan Green told jewishnews.co.uk: “I thought we were the better side over 70 minutes but didn’t control the second half as we did in the first. In the last ten minutes we were aware we were winning and sat back a bit too deep, they weren’t creating too many chances, but 1-0’s a dangerous scoreline. But when you put a lot into the weekend and it comes down to spot kicks and five minutes [of football], it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.
“We thought we were going to come away victorious and I thought we deserved to, the boys played fantastically, it was a pleasure to manage them and we’ve got to take the positives from it.”
Avi Korman gave GB the lead as he rifled in a shot at the near post, but they couldn’t hold out and were pegged back ten minutes from time when a similarly ferocious striker took a wicked deflection to leave Russell Corin wrong-footed.
Straight to spot kicks, the French went up first, and after eight spot kicks, a 100 percent conversion rate saw the score tied at 4-4, Ben Joseph, Korman, Jonny Kay and David Woolman all on target.
France missed their fifth spot kick, meaning Yoav Kestenbaum had the chance to win it – only to drag his shot wide, and although the assistant referee awarded a re-take, a strong protest from the French resulted in referee Martin Fox overruling the decision.
The next two spot kicks were then dispatched, Rocky Spitzer for GB, but when the French scored to make it 6-5, Adam Hakimi missed the target, cuing to mass celebrations from the French and a rousing rendition of La Marseillaise.
Philosophical in losing the match on penalties, joint-manager Rob Richman told jewishnews.co.uk: “We practised penalties beforehand and the boys take them for their clubs so we were pretty confident, but you know it’s a lottery and it’s one of those things.
“We’re proud of the performances but also that everyone enjoyed the weekend. We brought together boys from different clubs who play against each other every Sunday, but they bonded really well and that’s just as important. The tournament in itself we did quite well and hoped to win, just fell short at the last but it was great weekend.”
Green added: “The atmosphere was brilliant – until maybe the final five minutes of the final, but I felt we dealt with it – and I’m very proud with how we dealt with it. Overall it’s great to part of these weekends and that’s what it’s about – Jewish sport. We play a Jewish league every Sunday and the main reason we do it is because we’re all Jews. So to play a tournament like this where they come from Germany, France, Italy and Gibraltar is a lovely weekend.”
French manager Fabrice Madar was delighted with his side’s performance over the two days., He told jewishnews.co.uk: “I’m very happy to win, because it was very difficult having lost our first match. But we won the three games after that to not only win the cup, but retain the trophy.
“At 1-0 down with ten minutes to go, it was good to pull it back to 1-1, and you know with penalties it’s 50-50. England are a very good team, it was a very equal match and congratulations to both teams.
“We enjoyed it her in London, enjoyed visiting the capital and enjoyed a good Shabbat!”
The side reached the final having recorded two wins from their three opening games. They began their campaign on Friday with a 3-1 win over France, thanks to goals from Kestenbaum, Spitzer and Kay, though went down 2-1 to Germany despite Kestenbaum giving them an early lead. Sunday morning’s 4-0 win over the GB masters booked their place in the final, with Joseph and Woolman scoring two each.
GB’s masters side, jointly-managed by Dan Jacobs and Matt Kleinman, secured bronze. Adam Kaye got them off to a dream start on Friday when he scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Germany on Friday, but they were comprehensively beaten 7-0 by France in the game’s second day.
Following their loss to the Open side, they took on Germany for bronze and won the game 2-1 thanks to goals from Kaye and Daryl Phillips.
In the futsal tournament, Jonathan Kurrant’s GB Open team won gold, the masters won bronze, while GB’s women won bronze in the first ever women’s tournament.