11th August 2019
CUAFC Overcome Early Adversity to Reach the Semi-Finals of the World Elite University Football Tournament 2019
A strong squad travelled to Guangzhou, China for the annual WEUFT looking to build on recent successes in both Varsity and the BUCS league. A tough group draw was made even more daunting when the only goalkeeper, Jakub Sypniewski, sustained an injury in training that ruled him out of both group games.
After a couple of days to get over the jet lag and acclimatize to the scorching heat the boys faced a strong Tsinghua side knowing victory would secure qualification from the group. Yusuf Mushtaq bravely donned the gloves, however his goalkeeping career was cut short by a truly bizarre dismissal half way through the first half. After extended (and fully justified) protests, Henry Lambert went in net and the game got back underway. When Tsinghua took the lead a few minutes later it would have been easy to give up and blame the result on bad luck and terrible officiating, but the 10 men of CUAFC dug in and continued to show that they were the more talented side. Goals from Kosi Nwuba and Ollie Lerway turned the game on its head and a dogged defensive performance got us over the line.
This result took the pressure off of the final group game against unbeaten, two-time champions Universitat Tubingen. Many of this year’s squad were part of last year’s team that lost in the final to Tubingen and were keen to get one back on the seemingly invincible Germans; however, with very little rest and no recognised goalkeeper it looked unlikely. A superb defensive performance had the game finely balanced at 1-1 after 60 minutes. The stage was set for Kosi Nwuba who came on and got on the end of a fine Paddy Mortimer through ball before turning the German centre back inside out and sliding the ball past the goalkeeper. An excellent result that while surprising to outsiders, confirmed what we already knew about the strength of our squad.
After topping Group D, a quarter final against Oxford awaited. The return of Goalkeeper Jakub, and Yusuf and Henry to their preferred outfield positions boosted confidence as Cambridge went into the game strong favourites. A cagey and frustrating game in inhumane heat ended in a repeat of Varsity with Cambridge coming out victorious on penalties. The superb Jakub saved two and scored one in the penalty shoot out and showed why he has been such an important player all season.
Unfortunately the squad was hampered by suspensions and injuries for the semi final and came up short against in a tightly contested game with the University of Witwatersrand.
Overall the tournament was a great experience for all involved and the club would like to thank everyone who made it possible, especially CUAFC’s own Angus Buttar who’s Mandarin and organisational skills proved invaluable.
There are many positives to take into next year, and everyone involved is hugely excited for the start of the 2019/20 season.