THE DAY REPLAYED: In a spectacular end to the Boys’ Youth Olympic Football Tournament Nanjing 2014, Peru won a historic gold medal after beating Korea Republic in the final. Meanwhile, Iceland capped off an impressive maiden campaign at a FIFA competition to deservedly take a podium place thanks to a comfortable victory over Cape Verde Islands.
Play-off for Third Place
Cape Verde 0-4 Iceland
Any disappointment the young Iceland players felt after narrowly missing out on a place in the final will surely have been replaced by a mixture of pride and joy after this game. At their first appearance on the international stage, coach Freyr Sverrisson’s charges played a refreshing brand of football and were rewarded for their efforts with a bronze medal. Kolbeinn Finnsson put his side in front from the penalty spot in the 14th minute and although the Europeans subsequently created several good opportunities to add to their lead they were repeatedly denied by Cape Verde’s outstanding goalkeeper Mario Jorge. Iceland only found the target again shortly before the break, when Torfi Gunnarsson’s header made it 2-0.
At the start of the second half Iceland went further ahead, albeit in curious fashion: Jorge’s attempted clearance from Helgi Gudjonsson struck Fabio and the ball ricocheted into the Cape Verde net. The Africans struggled to create any meaningful attacks, with Kenny and Andradino well marshalled by the Icelandic defence. In the 61st minute another set-piece led to the final goal of the game, as Gudjonsson leapt highest in the penalty area to nod the ball home from a free-kick.
Peru 2-1 Korea Republic
The match between the two tournament favourites lived up to all expectations as spectators at the Jiangning Sports Centre Stadium were treated to a breathless encounter with numerous chances at both ends. The South Americans had the first sight of goal when Fernando Pacheco found the side-netting with his shot from the left, but it was the Asians who took the lead in the 15th minute through Jeong Wooyeong, who beat Peruvian goalkeeper Fabrian Caytuiro after superb build-up play from Hong Hyunseok. Pacheco then tried his luck from distance but was unable to get the better of Korean custodian Lee Changmin, and Gerald Tavara saw his effort crash off the bar as Peru pressed for an equaliser. Meanwhile, at the other end of the pitch Kim Seongjun spurned a glorious chance to double his side’s advantage. With 39 minutes on the clock, unmarked Peru captain Pacheco looked certain to level the scores when allowed to shoot from close range but he could only fire over.
Shortly after the break Peru did find the net however, when Franklin Gil finished from Darwin Melendez’s clever pass. Both teams went on to miss good headed chances through Joo Hwimin and Anthony Quijano, before Peru scored what was to be the winner when Pacheco curled an effort into the top corner from the edge of the area. Korea Republic poured forward in search of an equaliser but only carved out one more decent chance, with Lee Jiyong fizzing a shot just wide of the post.
Cape Verde in good hands
That Cape Verde packed their bags for home without a medal to show for their efforts was certainly no fault of Mario Jorge’s. The goalkeeper, who dons his gloves for Portuguese side FC Porto, seamlessly picked up where he left off in his strong semi-final display to repel several clear-cut chances for Iceland with a string of stunning saves. In the first half especially the Cape Verde captain was the cause of expressions of disbelief on the opposition’s faces, as he made two blocks in quick succession to first deny Gudmunudur Tryggvason and then Aron Kari Adalsteinsson. His team may have lost on the night, but Mario Jorge won his own private duel against the Icelandic attackers.
A valuable lesson
FIFA Fair Play Ambassador Simone Farina is at the Youth Olympics as an ‘Athlete Role Model’ in order to spread the values of the games and of football to the participating youngsters. “I’m very proud to be here today,” said Farina, who was at the stadium to witness the final two matches of the tournament first hand. “Football is a wonderful sport that gives all of us so much joy. We need to protect it. Speaking to young sportspeople is a fantastic experience. We must be good role models for them because they are the future.” Farina’s appearance in Nanjing has already borne fruit. “I learned the true meaning of sport from him,” said young golfer Virginia Elena Carta. “It’s not just about winning a competition, it’s about winning it the right way.”
Good things come to those who wait…
For a long time it was an exasperating evening for Peru captain Pacheco, who, try as he might, could not get the better of Korea’s goalkeeper Lee Changmin. In the 21st minute he thought he had scored with a delightful curling effort, only to see the shot-stopper tip it away from the top corner with spectacular diving save. The Peruvian refused to let his head drop though, and was rewarded for his persistence with the eye-catching winning goal.
5 - Iceland forward Helgi Gudjonsson netted his fifth goal of the tournament against Cape Verde to join Kim Gyuhyeong at the top of the scoring charts. However, as the Korea Republic attacker also registered three assists he was awarded the prize as top scorer in Nanjing.
Maybe this means we'll go to the World Cup one day