2 & 3,
Place: Athens, Greece
A year passed since the first Gathering and the KOA lads were ready to confront eachothers again. The association
had grown and new players would have the opportunity of getting in touch with their inner child. The competition
was much harder than in 2001 and nobody dared to bet his money on a winner.
Nobody expect Rikki Fullarton I should say, as it was no secret that he thought
he was going to win and he was right. He also got the Top Scorer trophy,
while the Best Defence trophy went to the Norwegian Klaus Loite. The silver
and bronze medals were won by Alkis Polyrakis and Klaus Loite respectively.
Everyone pretty much knew before Group A began that George, Alkis and Martin would qualify. The only thing we didn't know was how they were going to be seeded and who the 4th player would be. George won all the matches expect for a draw against Martin and everybody else defeated the players who finished below them twice. Alkis, last year's champion, had a poor performance and didn't look like he was going to be one of the favourites for the title. Apostolos was a mini-surprise as he finished above Jacob, who had played well in Dartford.
A very tight and interesting group. Klaus exhibited impressive skills both in attack and in defense and apart from a defeat to Robert he had no problems finishing first. Second place was decided by a single goal victory in the second Vasilis-Robert match, a very crucial moment as Robert would have to survive from a much harder group in the 2nd round. Rodolfo fought well in most matches but ended up 4th. Mark showed some definite improvement since last year but not enough to give him a few more points, while Yakos' lack of practice was obvious.
The toughest group of the first round with five excellent players battling for
four places. Would James Beard manage to stay alive among the four Greeks?
Panayotis had joined the KOA just a few days before the World Cup, and therefore
nobody knew how good he would be. He proved that he was a fantastic offensive
player, losing only one game to Bill, who performed a lot worse than people
expected. Spyros' offence was very efficient as well and second place came
naturally. James qualified mostly thanks to his two victories against Bill.
Nick was out of the tournament very early as he lost every crucial match as
Team B. Anthony and Darren couldn't do much to change their fate.
An easy first day of the tournament for Rikki Fullarton who had nothing but victories. It was obvious that Antonis didn't have much chance of qualifying, so that left four people of more or less equal strength battling for the next round. In the end, it was Filippo who was out by 2 points, just like in Dartford.
Nick was a big fish in a small lake and therefore had no problems in the Playouts. He left the world cup with a consolation trophy and the belief that he would do a lot better in future tournaments.
Plenty of surprises in the second round as the only person who managed to finish 1st in his group on both days was Rikki. In Group E, James Beard defeated George twice and made it clear that he was still one of the world's best defenders. Luck was not on his side though, as he would have to face Klaus in the quarter finals due to the Norwegian's unexpected defeat to Steve Screech, which gave Spyros the first place in Group F. Martin followed his brother's example in Group G, while Panayotis lost all his matches as Team B and got through the next round thanks to goal difference, while Glenn was unlucky and Vasilis underperformed. Group H was the group of death, featuring the four highest ranked players who were in Athens! Alkis lacked concetration in the final moments of his games as he conceeded a goal on injury time in all the ones in which he didn't win. Rikki was more careful and managed to remain the only undefeated player of the tournament. The crucial match was Bill-Alkis in which the looser would be out, Bill started well with a 3-1 and a 4-2 lead but in the end Alkis managed to win. Bill Vasiliou, one of the world cup's favourites was out. Robert did his best but couldn't do better than two draws.
Quarter finals and anything was possible. After the first legs, only Klaus could feel somewhat safe with his three goal advantage over James. Rikki managed one more victory against Panayotis this time, while Alkis defeated Martin Beard with a 2 goals difference. While everyone had their eyes on the Panayotis-Rikki match, Spyros Parashis managed an out of this world 6-7 against George!
In the second legs, Spyros, Alkis and Rikki doubled their victories. James beat Klaus but only by a single goal. He was out of the tournament, but at least he had the satisfaction of keeping the Norwegian down to only 6 goals in two games.
Spyros could not do much against Rikki's frantic attacks in the semi-final, so people focused on the Klaus-Alkis matchup. The Scandinavian was unstoppable during the first minutes of the game, and took an early 3-0 and 4-1 lead. However, the Greek came back strong and managed to equalize 4-4. Klaus took the lead once more and again Alkis equalized. That game was maybe the best of the whole tournament. The second leg wasn't much different, nobody would let go of the game and when the final whistle was heard Alkis had a one goal lead. He would face Rikki in the final.
Klaus won the bronze medal, Spyros would settle for the 4th place. Everyone was ready for the finals. Here's what happened next in numbers:
Rikki Fullarton was the 2002 Kick Off 2 World Champion.
Goals in the finals (Click to enlarge):