The annual International Amateur Football Tournament took place at one of the football grounds of a luxury Sithonia Thalasso Therapy & Spa Hotel, which has a fabulous beachfront location. The tournament was held from the 10th of June till the 17th of June, 2011. The organizers, participants and supporters had an excellent opportunity to play football and enjoy the fantastic nature and beautiful Mediterranean coast at a same time.
Airport "Macedonia" in Thessaloniki greeted the teams on very hot and sunny Friday afternoon, June 10. It took another 1,5h bus driving and we have reached the final destination - 5* Porto Carras Grand Resort.
Traditionally on IAFA tournaments no one was surprised with the number of ex-professional football players, even more, some legendary players.
For example this time we saw fantastic defender from early eighties FC Spartak Moscow Aleksandr Mirzoyan, World Cup bronze winner in 1990, legendary Italian Salvatore Schillaci, and finally team Ukraine with Aleksandr Khatskevich, ex-Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham star Sergey Rebrov,
Vitaly Kosovskiy, Andrey Husin, Vladislav Vaschuk.
There were four teams representing Greece: Atloorganosi, Aetos, Elpida and Black Star. Two teams from Russia: Tradiciya and Tehnopul. Armenia was represented by Dizak, one more Ukrainian side Istil and IAFA selected from different Russian, Armenian teams and even the hotel guests. As for example unexpectedly met famous Portuguese Sergio Conseisao (CL winner, EL winner, Seria-a winner and Liga Sagres winner three times) was also playing for IAFA team.
The results of the draw were following:
Group A: Tradiciya, Atloorganosi, Aetos, Elpida and Black Star
Group B: Tehnopul, Ukraine, Dizak, IAFA and Istil
Almost everyone agreed that group B could easily called as "the group of death". Fantastic team Tehnopul led by Renat Yagudin was two minutes from semi-final. In their final match in group stage against Istil they needed a draw to go through but marvellous come back from Ukrainian side broke their hearts at the end. Tehnopul was defeated by 4-3 and suddenly Dizak went through. Ukraine reserved their place in semis earlier.
In group A Tradiciya finished first leaving behind strong Greek side Atloorganosi.
Semi-final ties were following: Atloorganosi vs Ukraine and Dizak vs Tradiciya.
The main favourites of the tournament Ukraine were stunned by the hosts Atloorganosi. Two goals in the first half was enough for home side to book their place in the final where they met Dizak. Armenian side beat Tradiciya in penalty shootouts 3-1.
First half of the final was very tough. No one wanted to give up. But two early Dizak's goals in the second half gave them a huge advantage. Finally Greeks were beaten by 3-0 which means well deserved win to Dizak!
1st place – Dizak (Armenia) got 2000 EUR money prize.
2nd place – Atloorganosi (Greece) got 1000 EUR money prize.
3rd place – Tradiciya (Russia) got 500 EUR money prize.
Best goalkeeper – Ilya Azhdov (Tehnopul)
Best defender – Denis Suchkov (IAFA)
Best forward – Leonidas Papadopoulus (Atloorganosi)
Best captain – Aleksandr Khatskevich (Ukraine)
Audience's sympathy – Andrey Rebrov (Ukraine) and Vladimir Semeniyk (Istil)
There was also a traditional drawing of valuable prizes in the lottery. Lucky Giuseppe Faraone, by the way very good friend of Salvatore Schillaci, received a special prize – 500 EUR. It was a real surprise for him.
At the end Mr. Theodoras Makdalinidis, IAFA representative in Greece and Kaspars Dreimanis, IAFA representative in Great Britain assured us that there are going to be much more stronger and competitive teams in the next year's tournament from both countries and warned Russian teams to begin all the preparations for the next tournament well in time.
But the loudest statement was made by Salvatore Schillaci. "I was very pleased to come here. It was a real football festival and I'd like to thank Mr. Armen Barkhudaryan for inviting me. It was a pleasure to play with him in team Dizak. I assure all of you, next time I will not come alone. I do hope my former teammates Paolo Maldini, Roberto Baggio, Franko Baresi, Demetrio Albertini will join me during the next tournament and we will participate as the team under Italian flag."
International Amateur Football Association would like to thank all the participants, supporters and volunteers for organizing this amazing football festival. We also want to invite all the teams to participate in our tournaments in the future as well, not only abroad but also in Moscow. Thank you friends and enjoy the game with IAFA!