Italy Rolls Over Israel in IFAF Europe Qualifer

After playing to a halftime draw, Italy regroups and wins the first game 40-10 at the IFAF European Championship Qualifying Tournament to book a place in Sunday’s final against Serbia.

A sweltering September afternoon welcomed the teams for the first of the two semifinals of the IFAF European Championship Qualifying Tournament at Teghil Stadium in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy. Host team Italy ran out against Israel at 2 p.m. so their opponents could observe Shabbat, Judaism’s day of rest which is held on Saturdays.

The exceptional security measures needed when Israel plays away combined with the shortage of information available about this national team, which has hardly played any internationals, added an air of mystery to the first match of the tournament.

It was a game of two halves with Italy getting points on the board straightaway thanks to a fantastic pass by Tommaso Monardi to Michele Marchini, with the PAT coming from Stefano Di Tunisi.

However, Israel quickly caught up and overtook Italy, first with a field goal from Gal Mesika and then a brilliant pass to Jonathan Curran in the end zone by the outstanding QB Dani Eastman (who is one of the world’s best flag football players, and a member of the Israeli flag football team that is flying to Miami next week for the World Championship when they face Italy again). Italy pulled even at the end of the second quarter with a field goal by Di Tunisi and the teams returned to the changing rooms at 10-10.


Italy dominates 2nd half

After the break the Italians came out firing on all cylinders and it was now a different team on the field. It only took a few plays to knock out the Israeli defense with runs by Ricciardulli and Cotrone and spectacular catches by the squad of Italian receivers, perfectly fed by Luke Zahradka, who had taken over from Monardi in the meanwhile. The points then came from Gregorio Barbagallo, Louis Cotrone, and Tommaso Finadri, who blasted into the end zone towards the close of play this time with a pass from Tommaso Monardi, who had got back in the game. All the touchdowns, apart from the last one, were converted by the foot of Di Tunisi.

The final score was 40-10 with Team Italy having proved it had the goods to change the tempo of the game after the halftime break.

The Italians now go through to the final on Sunday and will play Serbia, the winner of the at 7 p.m. game

We would like to close with the words of the Israeli Commissioner, Betzalel Friedman;

“We came here to play and we know that there is always a lot of curiosity about our team because it’s difficult to separate politics from everything else. But that’s also one of the reasons we are here; to show the world that Israel also means sport and athletes and normal people who just want to enjoy events like these.”

The matches full stats can be found here.

John McKeon is a former professional and collegiate American Football player and coach now living and working in New York. His goal is to spread news, information, and opinion on the global growth of the sport he loves.