There were mixed fortunes for Northern Ireland at the Homeless World Cup in Glasgow on Friday in the Mens’ Plate Quarter Finals.
A heavy 8-3 defeat at the hands of Namibia in a game played in heavy rain that made the artificial surface something of a lottery was not the best of openings – but the team recovered to hand out an 11-5 drubbing to Denmark to improve their chances of a best-ever finish.
Northern Irish Captain Darren Spiers – a tower of strength for the squad throughout the tournament – was delighted with the recovery.
“It was a good game. Denmark are a very physical team – but I was very happy with the win. They let us play – other teams don’t give you room and time to settle on the ball. That’s why there were so many goals in the first-half.”
In spite of the earlier heavy defeat Darren – who has himself contributed some stunning goals to his side’s cause – did not rate the Namibians as the best team his side had encountered.
“The defeat against Namibia was mainly down to the rain and the pitch. Chile were probably the best team we have played – but even then we could have beaten them. We were a man down for two minutes – and that didn’t help.
“This is highest Northern Ireland have ever finished in the Homeless World Cup. It’s only the fourth competition we’ve entered.”.
A Belfast boy born and bred, Spiers has played at amateur level in his native city and outlined the problems he has encountered that have led him on the path to ‘Street Soccer’ and Glasgow.
“I’m from East Belfast, I played in the Amateur League in Belfast. I saw ‘Street Soccer’ advertised on a flier. I usually go down on Fridays after work. That’s how I got involved with Aidan Byrne.
“I was intimidated out of my own area by local para-militaries so I had to give my flat up – that put me back on the Housing Executive list as Homeless – so that’s how I qualified to come here.”
Northern Ireland will now play one final fixture on Saturday to determine their exact placing in both the tournament and the world rankings – but are assured of their highest-ever position.
Meanwhile in the Men’s Final reigning champions Mexico will face Brazil.