Men's final at University World Cup - Football is set!
Perhaps considered dark horses at the start of the tournament, University of Wollongong from Australia fortified their bid to win the first ever University World Cup - Football with a clinical 2-0 victory over the Autonomous University of Mexico State.
At 8pm on Friday, 29 November at the Jinjiang Football Park Stadium, it was time for the last piece of the final puzzle to fall into place at the KELME 2019 FISU University World Cup - Football. With the women’s final already set for Saturday, and University of the Republic, Uruguay having won their semi-final earlier in the evening, University of Wollongong and Autonmous University of Mexico State played for the right to compete in the men’s final on Sunday.
Coming into the match, Australian No.9 Marcus Beattie – one half of a fiery pair of twin forwards in the team – was already tied for the leading goal scorer of the tournament, with 3 goals in the 4 matches played thus far.
From the word go, the Australians looked like they meant business with many shots on goal in the first 10 minutes, but a few misfired ones meant that the score remained 0-0. The Mexican goalkeeper Ramiro Villagomez Victoria was constantly under pressure.
Just as the game looked to be going goalless into halftime, Marcus Beattie pounced on a defensive lapse and scored for the Australians. A stunned Ramiro Villagomez had not even stepped out of the goal.
To add insult to injury, Autonomous University’s No.10 Cesar Octavio Velazquez had a red card inflicted upon him in the added one minute of time and the Mexicans were reduced to 10 men, trailing 0-1.
“We dominated the first half and we would’ve been really disappointed if we weren’t at least a goal up at half time,” said a very happy Marcus Beattie after the match. “I’m lucky enough to have got that one before half time. And from there on we were confident in the sheds and came back out and finished the job off.”
The Beattie twins were on fire in the second half, as a visibly tiring and reduced Mexican squad just couldn’t keep up with their speed and agility. Even before the opposition had completely found their feet in the second half, Marcus Beattie beat the Mexican defence with sheer pace and scored, taking the match score to 2-0 and his personal tally to 5 for the tournament.
It could’ve been 3-0 in the very next minute but a rare miss from Beattie allowed Ramiro Villagomez some breathing space. The Autonomous University of Mexico State somehow managed to raise their game in the last ten minutes and put pressure on the Aussies. There were at least three real chances for them to score, but two of those ended up striking the top bar and one went wide of the goal.
At the end, it was too little too late for the Mexicans and they will have to settle for the bronze medal playoff against Myongji University of Korea. For Beattie, being the tournament’s top scorer is the last thing on this mind going into the final.
“All of the lads in the team are capable of scoring goals,” he said when asked if it were on his mind. “And at the end of the day, it is a team game. It’s about the team and we’ve got one more job to do in the final.”
“We’ve seen a little bit of the Uruguay team and it’s going to be a very physical game. We know they are very good football players so we will prepare 100% as always and be ready for the job on Sunday.”
Up early, University of the Republic defend their way to cup final
With a mix of sure-footed artistry and hard-nosed football play, the University of the Republic played their way into the KELME 2019 FISU University World Cup - Football finals with a 2-0 semifinal victory over Myongji University.
“We know the Asian style of football: very quick, moving all the time,” University of the Republic head coach Alejandro Heguy Charamelo said. “We can shut teams down on defense, but we knew our best chance to score would come in the opening minutes.”
Ten minutes in, the Uruguayans made the most of an opportunity. Picking up a loose ball in opponent territory, playmaking midfielder Gianfranco Ponzio found teammate Nicolas Ferreira. With the South Korean defense in transition, Ferreira dropped a twenty metre arcing shot over Myungji University goalkeeper Taein Kim.
Just before the halftime whistle, another purposeful University of the Republic counter-attack led to team captain Santiago Pallares Palomeque juking and dribbling his way in front of the slipping Myungji goalkeeper. 2-0, University of the Republic.
In the second half team tactics would change, but the score would not. After relying on heady ball control play to pair heady defense to a two-pronged striker attack, the University of the Republic turned to the park the bus formation.
By packing the backline with six and even seven defenders at times, the University of the Republic played to suffocate the Myungji University’s potent attacking force and run out the clock.
It wasn’t pretty. The Uruguayans turned away from the beautiful game. Stylistic tendencies aside, the University of the Republic’s heady defensive play held up until the final whistle.
"We have a very strong team, but we need to play our style of football,” Charamelo said about the tactical in-game transition. “At this level, it's very difficult to win. We needed to rely on our defense to make the final.”
With the only blemish on their record coming from a 1-1 draw during the group stage, the University of the Republic is the lone unbeaten team in the final.
Having played in the Summer Universiade semifinals himself during Birmingham 1991, Charamelo explained to broadcasters after the game the role football played on the university’s campus — and country.
“As a Uruguayan, football is our way of life. We feel playing for the final is our bit of destiny,” Charamelo said. “We will try. We will try. What I know is that we will fight from the first minute to the ninetieth."
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