Peru takes Games’ final gold at the ‘Nanjing Nou Camp’
Football kicked off the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games 14 days ago, when Papua New Guinea’s women took on Venezuela. And on Wednesday evening the sport brought the curtain down on a hugely successful fortnight as Peru’s men won the Games’ final gold medal, beating Republic of Korea 2-1.
Jeong Wooyeong put Republic of Korea 1-0 up in a first half that saw both sides miss a succession of chances. But Franklin GIL (PER) equalised early in the second period and a sublime strike from Peru captain Fernando Pacheco was enough to give them gold.
“Our boys are incredibly proud to come all the way from South America and win the gold medal,” said Peru’s chef de mission, Alonso De La Guerra.
Iceland celebrate in the bronze medal match
In the bronze medal match, Iceland beat Cape Verde 4-0. Kolbeinn Finnsson (ISL), Torfi Gunnarsson (ISL) and a Fabio (CPV) own goal put them 3-0 up by half time. Forward Helgi Gudjonsson (ISL), the Europeans’ undoubted star, finished off the Africans on 62 minutes.
The sheer scale of these Games has taken most of the participating athletes by surprise – and the football competition was no exception. An incredible crowd cheered on two Under-15 boys’ matches as if it were watching the Champions League final.
“It was unbelievable out there, like playing at the Nou Camp,” said Gudjonsson. “The noise was incredible. Most matches in Iceland have about 40 fans. You could have got half the population of our country in this stadium.”
On Tuesday, Honduras had beaten Vanuatu 5-0 in the play-off for 5th-6th place. Vanuatu had also lost 9-0 to Korea and 7-1 to Cape Verde. But while it may have been harrowing on the pitch, the Nanjing experience has been wonderful for the Pacific Islanders.
“What you have to remember is that, for these boys, it is the first organised football competition they have ever participated in,” said the National Olympic Committee’s chef de mission, Karlo Malau.
“They may have let in a lot of goals but the experience has been invaluable. They have been trusted with a freedom around the village that they normally wouldn’t get, and they have grown as human beings.
“They’ve had a great time, but it has been a huge learning process too. The cultural education programmes have been a success.