Thomas Pitney, Sports Editor
On Sunday, Nov. 8, Wooster’s International Student Services (ISS) hosted a Mini-World Cup event for students at the Scot Center. Rayan Dos Passos ’25, the main organizer of the event, said that the goal of the Mini-World Cup was to “hold a sports tournament between international and domestic students…[and] to promote the opening of the International Education Week.” As Passos noted, planning the inaugural Wooster Mini-World Cup involved many different people on campus, and he took time to praise the “help and support of [Wooster] staff like Hannah Thomas, Jill Munro, Ebed [Sulbaran], students like Craig Akiri ’23, Bee Bi ’23 and some residential assistants like Mudiwa [Mungoshi] ’24, Jiho [Park] ’24 and Naol Hulufe ’23.” Wooster students from around the world played for one of 10 teams at the Mini-World Cup. After extremely competitive group and playoff rounds, Team Côte d’Ivoire emerged victorious, defeating Team USA in the championship game by a score of 4-0.
The 10 teams were divided into two groups. Group A was composed of Team USA, Team Côte d’Ivoire, Team U.S. Virgin Islands, Team Zimbabwe and Team Korea. Meanwhile, Group B featured Team Ethiopia/Ghana, Team Djibouti, Team Morocco, Team China and Team Vietnam. Each team was guaranteed to play at least two games against teams in their group and the top two teams of each group would advance to the playoff round.
In Group A, Team USA, Team Côte d’Ivoire and Team U.S. Virgin Islands emerged as the top three teams. Team USA stood out as a contender, defeating Team Zimbabwe by a score of 2-0 and then downing Team Côte d’Ivoire 3-1 in a fast-paced match. Throughout the group stage, Team USA demonstrated defensive intensity and timely scoring. As Team USA player Arjan Chahal ’26 put it, “we had high energy and high morale going into the first game against [Team] Zimbabwe, and after we won we kept the ball rolling for the next two.”
After each team had played two games, Team USA held a record of 2-0, while Teams Côte d’Ivoire and U.S. Virgin Islands stood at 1-1. To determine the second-best team from the group, Team U.S. Virgin Islands squared off against Team USA and Team Côte d’Ivoire faced Team Korea. When the dust settled, Team Côte d’Ivoire clinched second place and qualified for the playoffs by convincingly defeating Team Korea 4-0, while watching Team USA defeat Team U.S. Virgin Islands in a 2-1 nail-biter. Below were the final standings for Group A:
The matches in Group B were just as compelling as those in Group A. Team Ethiopia/Ghana was dominant, winning their group stage matches by a combined score of 7-1. In both matches, Team Ethiopia/Ghana showed off their athleticism and team chemistry on offense and defense to clinch the top spot in Group B. As was the case in Group A, there was intense competition for the second spot in the group, with both Team Morocco and Team Djibouti finishing holding records of 1-0-1 after their games. This required a play-in game between the two teams to determine which team would qualify for the playoffs. The high-stakes match began as an even, defensive struggle, but Team Djibouti eventually pulled away from Team Morocco, winning the game by a score of 3-0 and taking the second seed in Group B.
The first playoff match featured the top seed from Group B, Team Ethiopia/Ghana, against the second seed from Group A, Team Côte d’Ivoire. During the first half, Côte d’Ivoire dictated the pace of the game, possessing the ball in their opposition’s half and taking several shots on goal. However, Ethiopia/Ghana’s goalkeeper, Craig Akiri ’23, made several incredible saves to stave off the potent Côte d’Ivoire offensive attack. As a result, the 0-0 halftime score did not reflect Côte d’Ivoire’s superiority in shots on goal. In the second half, Côte d’Ivoire’s offense exploded, with brothers Louis Sehr ’25 and Jil Sehr ’25 each scoring two goals en route to a 4-0 victory.
Côte d’Ivoire’s opponent in the championship game would be determined by the outcome of the second playoff game, which featured Team USA, Group A’s top seed, and Team Djibouti, Group B’s second seed. From the jump, Team USA pressured Team Djibouti and asserted control in the game, taking a 2-0 lead. Chahal, who scored the second goal for Team USA, said, “I pressured the defender and stole the ball off of him, and slotted a finish into an empty goal.” Team Djibouti responded with a Noah McDonald ’26 goal in the second half. Unfortunately for Djibouti, they were unable to even the score against Team USA’s defense, eventually falling by a score of 2-1.
The championship match featured a rematch of Team USA and Team Côte d’Ivoire. During the group round, Team USA’s defense befuddled Team Côte d’Ivoire’s relentless offensive attack and defeated them 3-1. As a result, both teams knew each other and were eager for a rematch. For Team Côte d’Ivoire, the match was a chance to avenge their only group stage defeat. Louis Sehr ’25 noted that “after conceding a tough loss to [Team USA], we studied them and prepared accordingly, waiting for another chance to face them later in the tournament.” Sehr also said that Team Côte d’Ivoire “had a sense of revenge heading into the game, ready to change the narrative.” Team USA, meanwhile, was battling the injury and fatigue bugs. According to Chahal, “we had just lost one of our best players that played in that 3-1 group stage win due to injury and we were starting to get tired.” Despite this, Chahal noted that Team USA was “ready to give it our all and fight until the last whistle.”
Team Côte d’Ivoire’s preparation paid off in a big way, as their offense found an impressive rhythm during the first half. Louis Sehr ’25 opened the scoring by putting the ball past the goalie in a one-on-one situation. Later in the game, Sehr scored Côte d’Ivoire’s second goal after he “decided to switch things up and take [the Team USA goalie] on.” Loyd Djirosse ’25 tacked on another goal for Côte d’Ivoire before the halftime whistle blew, giving Côte d’Ivoire a commanding 3-0 halftime lead. During the second half, Team Côte d’Ivoire took a more defensive position, denying any and all scoring attempts from Team USA. For good measure, Moody Saadi ’23 scored a last-second goal to secure the 4-0 Côte d’Ivoire victory.
Sehr felt extremely gratified after Team Côte d’Ivoire’s victory, reporting that “it was an amazing feeling to win it for my country,” and that “it felt even better to be able to do it alongside my brothers.” Passos, who played for Team Morocco in addition to organizing the Mini-World Cup, was extremely pleased with the results of the event, reporting that “the [Mini-World Cup] went as planned, but [was] different from my expectations; the enthusiasm, joy and energy of all was what made this [a] special event.”
Thank you to everyone who planned and participated in this amazing event and be sure to check out upcoming events for International Education Week!