Chile 1-0 Iceland
15 January 2017
Guangxi Sports Center, Nanning
China Cup final
Chile retained the UFWC title and remain unofficial football world champions after this win over Iceland in the inaugural China Cup final. The four-team tournament, played at the Guangxi Sports Center in Nanning, had already seen China beat Croatia to finish in third place. Angelo Sagal’s first-half goal was enough to give Chile the win.
The China Cup is something of a curiosity, with club football commitments meaning the visiting sides brought depleted squads, leading to queries over whether tournament games could really be considered international “A” matches.
As we had seen in the previous title match, Chile’s unfamiliar squad was missing the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Claudio Bravo, Gary Medel and Arturo Vidal, with Eduardo Vargas and Jean Beausejour the only regular internationals in the line-up.
Iceland’s squad was similarly depleted, missing the likes of star man Gylfi Sigurdsson, and with only defenders Birkir Saeversson and captain Kari Arnason likely to be familiar from the team’s impressive performance at Euro 2016.
The goal came in the 18th minutes, when a pulled-back cross was flicked with his head past the Iceland keeper by Sagal. There were no further goals, and La Roja captain Beausejour lifted the China Cup (which looked oddly like a cheap copy of the World Cup) inside a virtually empty stadium to end a pretty forgettable tournament.
The China Cup will now be a regular event, and the next tournament is expected to involve eight teams. Whether or not it will involve recognisable first teams remains to be seen. The China Cup will need to do some bulking up before it can be taken seriously.
The next UFWC title match will involve a much more established tournament. Chile go to Argentina on 23 March for matchday 13 of Conmebol World Cup qualification. Chile are currently fourth in the Conmebol group, in the last automatic qualification place, while Argentina are one point behind in the fifth-place play-off position.
Argentina are the most successful non-British team in UFWC history with 61 title match wins, compared to Chile’s 21. Argentina’s last two UFWC title matches, in June 2016 and July 2015, were both against Chile. Chile won both of them – both on penalties.
The Argentina v Chile match will be played at the Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires on 23 March. We’ll have full coverage right here. In the meantime, if you’re new to the Unofficial Football World Championships you can find out all about the UFWC here. And you can keep up to date with all things UFWC by following us on Twitter or Facebook.