Updated: Mar 17
Heartbreaking last minute defeat to Uruguay
JINJIANG, People’s Republic of China – After 11 days, 61 matches, and 206 goals scored, it finally came down to the University of Wollongong from Australia taking on University of the Republic from Uruguay in the men’s grand finale of the KELME 2019 FISU University World Cup - Football.
In a packed Jinjiang Football Park Stadium, watched by 22 other participating teams and 7500 spectators, the Australians and Uruguayans battled it out in the title clash.
Within the first fifteen minutes it was clear that it was going to be a match worthy of the final. In the fourth minute itself, University of the Republic’s captain Santiago Pallares Palomeque scored and the dugout as well as the crowd erupted in applause.
It was way too early to count the Australians out just yet though. In response to the opposition’s goal, tournament top scorer No.9 Marcus Beattie seemed to shift into a higher gear almost immediately and began zipping around the forward line in what spectators in Jinjiang have come to know now as his characteristic style.
For a few minutes it looked almost inevitable that he would score, and he did. In the 12th minute, Beattie restored parity in the game and sent the crowd into raptures.
From then on, it was a deadlock and the crowd were treated to some fast paced, top class football. For every attacking strategy that the Australians had, the Uruguayans had an answer. And so, it went 1-1 into halftime.
In the second half, the pace of the match dropped somewhat as both teams were on the defensive until about 75 minutes in. However, University of the Republic’s No.9 Nicolas Chaia Ferreira was creating a lot of chances in the midfield and also made a few solo runs to the goal.
The scoreboard didn’t change though, even as Gianfranco Ponzio’s free kick in the 78th minute set up a perfect goal opportunity for Francisco Dos Santos Alvez. It could have been 2-1 to the Uruguayans, but it was not to be thanks to a great save from Luke Kairies.
And so, befitting a grand finale, the match went into 30 minutes extra time. Just as when the match had started, there were a few goal opportunities within the first couple of minutes. Nicolas Chaia Ferreira managed to catch the top bar in the 92nd minute and the Australians breathed a sigh of relief. Marcus Beattie responded with a shot on goal in the 110th minute but couldn’t get past keeper Carlos Andres Ferreira Santos, who has stood like a rock throughout the tournament.
With just seven minutes to go, and the possibility of a penalty shootout looming large, a foul committed by Joel Beattie led to a penalty being awarded to University of the Republic. It was the decisive moment and sure enough, the penalty kick was taken by captain Santiago Pallares, who softly curved in a low beauty into the bottom right corner, just out of reach of the keeper. It was to be enough for the title.
When the winning team was asked if the final was their toughest match of the tournament, Head Coach Alejandro Heguy Charamelo immediately said, “Yes of course, a final is a final. In our country we say you don’t play a final, you only win a final!”
“Thank you to the people of Jinjiang for being so helpful and receptive to us,” he added. “The people here were truly amazing.”
It marked the end of an exhilarating two weeks here in the Fujian province, where more than 400 athletes from five continents came together for a celebration of football, friendship and fair play.
As an inaugural event, the KELME 2019 FISU University World Cup - Football has set the benchmark for years to come. This unique event that brings together the best university teams from around the world, will be held every two years and for the next three editions, here in Jinjiang. Both the men’s and women’s tournament winners get direct qualification to the 2021 edition.
The Australian Women’s football team from The University of Sydney also did us proud finishing in sixth place.
Mark Sinderberry, CEO of UniSport Australia said:
“This event has provided a valuable opportunity for UniSport Nationals winners to compete against universities from across the world. Congratulations to both teams on a tremendous performance at the inaugural University World Cup – Football and special mention to tournament leading goal scorer Marcus Beattie, University of Wollongong Bachelor of Nutrition Science”.
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