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Cambridge University Association Football Club reach the final

Cambridge University Association Football Club have reached the final of the 12 team World Elite University Football Tournament in Wuhan.

Following two semi final defeats in the previous two tournaments, Cambridge finally made it into the final with an emphatic 4-0 win against the National University of Seoul.

An early goal from Ollie Lerway, followed by a powerful run and strike from Chukwunenyem Nwuba (Kosi) gave Cambridge a two goal advantage at half time.

Our opponents put us under pressure in the closing stages of the first half, as legs became understandably tired in the extreme heat and humidity, but we survived the late onslaught and were able to regroup.  

The tactical discipline of the players and the shape of the team out of possession blunted the threat of any comeback and, as the half progressed, Cambridge actually created the better chances on the counter attack.

The match was effectively won with 12 minutes remaining when a great moment of skill by the impressive Luke Sefton won a penalty and resulted in a red card for the goalkeeper's cynical foul.  The resultant spot kick was saved by the replacement keeper but the team remained undeterred.  Two late goals from both centre backs, Oscar Melbourne and Alex Bull, both from corners gave the score a flattering look but allowed us to see the game out comfortably.  It is not only the England national team that are effective from set plays!

The only negative from the game was that Joe Young left the pitch before the final whistle with a dislocated and broken nose, which will require surgery on his return to England.  He will unfortunately miss the final, but he has performed with great credit in the tournament and can look forward to next season.  In the meantime, for the final, he will add some much needed knowledge, intelligence and tactical insight into the coaching team, which he doubles in size!

It has really been a remarkable achievement by this small group of players.  The squad is small in size, with two late drop outs meaning we only have 15 players (including 2 goalkeepers).  But it has been huge in character.  The semi final was our 4th in 6 days, kicking off at 3pm in a temperature of 38 degrees and 90% humidity.  And we were still running in the 90th minute.  The physical ability and commitment of the players has been exceptional and considering this tournament is our first competitive match since March, this is really incredible.  The players need to look at their lifestyles!  They are far too fit and professional for students!

So having beaten the University of South California and the University of Melbourne in previous games, and overcoming the National University of Seoul in the semi final,  we now face the University of Tubingen for the WEUFT title.

In truth, as Tubingen proved last year by winning the tournament and in this competition by scoring 6 goals in their semi final, this will be a really tough task.  Their squad all play in semi professional club football in Germany and they are very strong.  But we will patch up our remaining 12 outfield players, ensure we rest and recover as best we can, and then relish the opportunity of playing against the best team in the tournament.

The achievement has been getting there, and as long as we perform with the same commitment, desire and team spirit as we have shown so far this week, we will do the ourselves and the club proud.

Finally, congratulations to Jack Congdon for the way in which he led the team to winning the BUCS Midland's 1A  this season, creating a competitive and respectful culture amongst all players within CUAFC and typically selflessly has passed on the armband to Oscar Melbourne during this tournament.  Oscar has started with two wins so let's hope that he can continue that record in the final and into next season.

All players should take credit if they can leave the shirt in a better place.  Without doubt Jack has done so and CUAFC is in great shape, in no small part due to his efforts during his time at CUAFC but especially as captain over the last 12 months.  It is fitting that Jack's last game in a CUAFC shirt should be a final.