IFA Under 17 World Cup round up: final day
It’s been quite a tournament. Goals have flown in left, right and centre, the quality of play has been sublime and, just as soon as the tournament ended, we had all started to get used to the loudest buzzer in world futsal.
Last night, however, wasn’t about the thrills and spills – it was about determining final standings. First there was a third place play off to contest, between Scotland and Pakistan, and that would be followed by the evening’s main event, the final between the USA and Australia.
Scotland and Pakistan were the two teams to open the evening’s proceedings. With third place up for grabs Scotland made a perfect start as they went 1-0 up inside two minutes. They then added two further goals, after five minutes, to make it 3-0.
Any suggestions that this could be a walkover were soon extinguished as Pakistan continued to show the determination that had been customary throughout the competition. They rallied, scored two good goals in the process, and they went into the half time break just the one goal behind.
In the second half Scotland’s play improved and they stretched their lead within the first few minutes, making it 6-2. Pakistan, however, rallied once more to make it 6-4 by the 28th minute of game.
Scotland appeared to have the tie wrapped up as they scored goals seven, eight and nine but a quick-fire Pakistan double continued to give them a few nervy moment. However Scotland found the net a further three times as the match finished 12-6 in favour of the hosts.
It was then time for the final itself as the USA and Australia geared up for the match that would decide who would be crowned champions. Everyone at the Dundee International Sports Complex was treated to a tasty encounter.
After several close efforts, and some great futsal, from both sides it was Australia that gained the initial advantage through Liam Dawson, who was to have a mightily impressive showing in the final.
Despite the USA’s best efforts to grab an equalising goal Australia scored their second in the 14th minute through Papaspiropolos. It remained 2-0 going into half time.
Both teams continued to battle hard in the second period but the USA managed to successfully pull a goal back in the 29th minute. Luca Scotzniovsky was the man to slot home past the impressive Seb Stankovic in the Australian goal.
The USA came close to leveling the match on several occasions, after being denied by the woodwork three separate times. That was to prove crucial as Dawson made it 3-1 to Australia with just three minutes remaining.
Any hope of a US comeback was soon to be extinguished as Diangelo Smith-Gleaves inadvertently redirected a long pass, from Stankovic, into his own net to make it 4-1.
Second penalties then followed thick and fast, with Papaspiropolos netting two of them to further extend Australia’s winning margin.
Soon the final buzzer sounded and the Aussie’s could celebrate their 6-1 win that brought with it the title of champions. While the score may look like it was an easy game at first glance, it was anything but. Certainly, considering the way both sets of players left the court, it was clear how much each had worked for it and how much they wanted to win.
Every team at this World Cup has done themselves justice. Not just in the way that they have played the game but in the manner that they have conducted themselves off the court. You will never see a finer collection of gentlemen anywhere.
While Australia have won the tournament each team can be proud. It is because of them, and the hard work of the organisers, that this World Cup has been such a success. It is this collection of gentlemen that could well have started something momentous.