Kagdazka and Pazhujebu national football team
|Confederation||AOCAF (Atlantian Oceania)|
|Most caps||Zubeida Ichuvihaja (83)|
|Top scorer||Charha Chadi (29)|
|Highest KPB ranking||24|
Sportgirls 0 - 0 Kagdazka and Pazhujebu
(Rigunanta, Pacitalia, AOCAF 30)
Kagdazka and Pazhujebu 6 - 0 Allamunic States
(Gelendzhik, Kagdazka, World Cup 57 qualifying)
Kagdazka and Pazhujebu 0 - 6 Dorian and Sonya
(Brattleboro, Cassadaigua, World Cup 54)
|Best result||Fourth place|
|Cup of Harmony|
The Kagdazka and Pazhujebu national football team represents Kagdazka and Pazhujebu in international football competitions such as the World Cup and the Atlantian Oceania Championships (AOCAF). The team is largely made up of players from the KPFA League First Division, though recently a few foreign-based players have won caps. It is a developing team with a growing reputation on the world stage, having achieved the quarterfinals at Cup of Harmony 45 and qualified for World Cups 54 and 55 two and four years later, respectively.
At a time when Kagdazka and the Pazhujeb Islands were separate nations, they both had national teams. Neither enjoyed great success (the Pazhujeb Islands' best result was a group stage exit from World Cup 40 after three losses), but both galvanized supporters' culture in both countries. As a result, since unification, there has been enormous disagreement over how to brand the new national team. Though some academics argued for the development of a unique new color scheme and a new nickname, eventually those who suggested duplicity of team identity won out. For a time, the Federation's national team wore wisteria and green when playing home matches in Kagdazka and purple and black while gracing the pitches of the Pazhujeb Islands. However, in 5251 the team officially adopted universal kits and universal nicknames, deciding to wear wisteria and black at all home matches and all white during away matches. There is no main stadium for the team; the stadia change from cycle to cycle. Clubs can win the right to have the national team play games at their stadia via successes in the Šenapatiam'ajat Vahavi.
Neither of the former national teams of the constituent countries of the Federation had particularly skilled or well-renowned players (though aging Pazhujebi great Šušan'ikara Ghur once played for Ranca Toco of Cafundeu). However, both teams have unique histories with regard to managers. Former World Cup winner (with his home nation of Starblaydia) Jaime Oberlander held the reins of the Pazhujebi national side for six years before retiring permanently. His stewardship oversaw a remarkable Baptism of Fire 25 victory in which the Urchins vanquished Oberlander's Starblaydia in the final. He is still remembered very fondly in Pazhujebu, and in 5243 (Pazhujebi calendar), Urajbina ZL's beautiful urban stadium was renamed after him.
Kagdazka, on the other hand, had a series of tragically idiotic appointments at their managerial position, the most notorious of which resulted in the death of the nation's head of state, before settling on the terrifying but legendary witch, Baba Yaga. Named to the job after officials in the Kagdazka Football Association were tricked into thinking that Vasilisa Zakharov would be eaten by the witch if they did not appoint her, she stabilized the previously shambolic state of the squad's affairs. In the chaos that resulted after the collapse of the E/C Party government, the national team stayed out of the public eye, but when Kagdazka unified with Pazhujebu Baba Yaga continued on at her post and is still the manager.
She was a hard-line disciplinarian (as players who didn't fulfill their duties in training risked being tossed into the witch's oven, baked to death, and eaten), so her teams followed orders well. Tactically, however, she often left much to be desired; her bizarre attacking 5-4-1 (used in World Cup 54 qualifying) is a formation that will live in infamy.
The Urchins (as they are increasing becoming known across the Federation, even in Kagdazka) qualified for the World Cup 54 finals and were drawn into Group G. In their first match, they were clobbered by the then-defending champions Dorian and Sonya; in their second, they let a two-goal advantage slip away and were beaten in stoppage time by Queer Poco el Mono Ara; and in the third, they achieved their first-ever finals win (and a hard-fought one at that) against Krytenia.
Kagdazka and Pazhujebu went into the World Cup 55 finals with higher expectations, but left with dashed hopes. The team's campaign, the only positive in which was a single bore draw against Kelssek, left a decidedly sour taste in the mouths of Kagdaz and Pazhujebi fans, especially considering that the Urchins went undefeated during qualifying. After the disastrous tournament, strife began to build amongst the players of the team, frustrated with the strictness of their witch manager.
Correspondingly, in early 5249 the KPFA sent Baba Yaga a now-infamous memorandum, wherein the manager was given a list of changes she was required to make. Angry with these ultimatums, she resigned. KPFA officials have been cowering in their offices ever since, mortified that she will someday return to exact her revenge. The only thing they have managed to accomplish during their self-imposed refuge is the appointment of the team's new manager, Brutušam Erassi, the mastermind behind Urnabhi's truly miraculous stay in the KPFA League First Division.
Erassi is persuasive and shrewd, and has orchestrated many a somewhat shady move behind closed doors in the past. Much of his work is done before his teams ever set foot on the pitch. Tactically speaking, he usually favors the use of either one or three striker setups with a tall and powerful target man semi-permanently residing in the middle of the opponents 18-yard-box. Correspondingly, he benched the team's talismanic (but also 43-year-old) number ten, Šušan'ikara Ghur, in favor of the very-much in-form right winger Aquillius Razava, then of the Cotdelapomais champion side Tout-Puissant Outremont, and pushed Fušia Oujadda up the pitch into the full striker role she had at her club at that time, Ranca Toco. (Those two players, while still picked for every match by the faithful Erassi, have since been transferred to Therakham ZL and Petardos S/A respectively.)
But despite the Erassi revolution, the Urchins' struggles continued. World Cup 56 qualifying saw the side matched up against Polar Islandstates, The Archregimancy, Astograth, Errinundera, and Bleak Rock, amongst others. Though Kagdazka and Pazhujebu made the most of a very difficult situation and finished 3rd in the group, this was not good enough to qualify for the big dance and resulted in a Cup of Harmony invitation.
At that Cup of Harmony, the Federation saw a successful group stage run grind to a halt after Arkhip Tikhomirov put away a catastrophic own goal in extra time to give Southern Cynocephali a victory in the Round of 16. Following this disaster, many called for the sacking of Erassi. However, the KPFA showed faith in the former Urnabhi and FKM boss, and extended his contract to the end of World Cup 57.
Sensing that his time was running short, Erassi went for the jugular during the World Cup 57 qualifying campaign. After testing an all-out attack 3-4-3 formation in AOCAF 32 and sorting out the questions over his defenders, he led the Urchins to second place in a group that contained Jeru FC, Mantwenic, and Ocel0t. This sent Kagdazka and Pazhujebu to a single-match playoff, which they won with aplomb. At World Cup 57, a nightmare draw placed the Urchins with Valanora, Jeruselem, and Khytenna, and the Federation was understandably dumped out. Nobody was too hard on Erassi, all things considered, especially after he led the Urchins to redemption from their World Cup failure by achieving second place in AOCAF 33 (a tournament which Kagdazka and Pazhujebu hosted).
But the clock at last struck midnight after Erassi's Urchins failed to qualify for World Cup 58. Dramatically, Kagdazka and Pazhujebu recovered from a formidable deficit to climb out of the automatic-non-qualification third place spot in their group, obtaining second place right at the death, but the outfit somehow contrived to lose to the pathetically unimportant nation of Rouge Pioneers in the playoff that would have sent the team to Queer Poco el Mono Ara and Andossa Se Mitrin Vega. The blade of the guillotine at last came loose from its moorings, and the era of Erassi was over. (The former Urnabhi and FKM man was hardly out of work for long, however; the Sargossan FA came in for him almost immediately after the sacking and he accepted the posting of Corsairs manager.)
Maksim Astafyev, who had guided Nekromanti to an unlikely promotion and who had repaired the damage caused by Ignacio Vélez at Urajbina, was hired by the KPFA to take over. At the latter club, his partnership with Urajbina captain Aqhorassia Bhara was notoriously close (some in the media even intimating that their relationship was romantic, though this was never proven), and those ties continued on in the K&P team, as he immediately handed the tenacious little center back the national team armband. It should come as no surprise; many have observed that Astafyev's favorite type of player is a quick, mobile, positionally versatile defender, and Bhara is precisely that type of player.
His first tournament, Cup of Harmony 50, was a bit of a train wreck, but his side looked much better in AOCAF 34, obtaining a respectable third-place finish after Fušia Oujadda scored a goal against the run of play in the second half of extra time to beat Andossa Se Mitrin Vega in the third-place playoff.