11 title matches, 22 goals, one champion. That’s the story of the Unofficial Football World Championships in 2009.
The Netherlands began the year as champions – and ended 2009 with their hands still firmly on the UFWC title. It was a phenomenal year for the Dutch, who won six and drew five title matches, scoring 18 goals along the way. They also successfully qualified for the official World Cup. This is how they did it:
The year’s UFWC fixture list began in February with the Dutch defending their title in Tunisia, with Klass Jan Huntelaar scoring in a 1-1 draw.
Next up was a huge home clash with all-time UFWC champions Scotland. That the game was also a World Cup Qualifier only increased the anticipation. Scotland battled hard in Amsterdam, but the Dutch eventually outclassed them, with Huntelaar, Robin van Persie and Dirk Kuyt earning a 3-0 win.
The next match, in April, saw a UFWC debut for Macedonia. It was a baptism of fire for the new boys, who were beaten 4-0 in Amsterdam in a World Cup Qualifier. Kuyt (2), Huntelaar and Rafael Van der Vaart scored the goals.
The Netherlands were now well on course to reach World Cup 2010, and they qualified in June courtesy of a 2-1 win over Iceland in Reykjavik. The Dutch had qualified with a 100 percent record.
Back in Rotterdam a few days later, the Dutch beat Norway 2-0 to set up a title match against England.
The England match, in Amsterdam in August, was a true game of two halves. The Netherlands took a 2-0 lead into the break, with Kuyt and Van der Vaart capitalising on English defensive errors. But England fought back in the second half, with Jermaine Defoe scoring twice to level the game. The Dutch, however, held on to retain the title.
Into September, and a 3-0 victory over Japan in Enschede was fairly straightforward. Van Persie, Huntelaar and Wesley Sneijder got the goals.
Next up was arguably the toughest test of 2009 for the Netherlands, as they played their return World Cup Qualifier against Scotland. With the Dutch already qualified, and the Scots fighting hard in front of a passionate Glasgow crowd, this could have seen a change of title holder. But the Netherlands eventually wore the Scots down and, in the 82nd minute, substitute Eljero Eli scored the only goal of the game.
October saw the Dutch take a long trip to Sydney, and a play out a 0-0 draw with Australia.
Another 0-0 draw followed in November, in Pescara against Italy. And the year’s fixtures ended a few days later with another goalless draw against Paraguay.
What can we expect for 2010? Well, Netherlands versus USA is scheduled for March, and the Dutch have been drawn in World Cup group E alongside Denmark, Japan, and Cameroon.
But there is a long way to go before we get to South Africa, and no doubt a lot of twists and turns along the way in what will surely be another exciting year for the UFWC.
11/02/09 TUNISIA 1-1 NETHERLANDS
28/03/09 NETHERLANDS 3-0 SCOTLAND
01/04/09 NETHERLANDS 4-0 MACEDONIA
06/06/09 ICELAND 1-2 NETHERLANDS
10/06/09 NETHERLANDS 2-0 NORWAY
12/08/09 NETHERLANDS 2-2 ENGLAND
05/09/09 NETHERLANDS 3-0 JAPAN
09/09/09 SCOTLAND 0-1 NETHERLANDS
10/10/09 AUSTRALIA 0-0 NETHERLANDS
14/11/09 ITALY 0-0 NETHERLANDS
18/11/09 NETHERLANDS 0-0 PARAGUAY