The players that step onto the court this weekend to take part in the Futsal National League will have plenty to live up to after the competition kicked off in thrilling fashion last week with a high-scoring bout of excitement in the inaugural Northern Division Home Series.
It is now the turn of teams from lower down the country to enjoy their time in the spotlight through the first-ever Southern Division Home Series, three matches for which take place on Saturday with the remaining fixture set for Sunday.
The action will be shared between the Central Energy Trusts Arena in Palmerston North and Dunedin’s Edgar Centre as Central Futsal-Manawatu play host to Capital Futsal over two games and Southern United do likewise against Canterbury United in a pair of South Island derbies.
The four teams will have high standards to uphold after the breath-taking action of the northern series and if anything like the same drama can be replicated then the fans that turn out at each venue are not likely to leave disappointed.
The opening match of the competition resulted in a seemingly comfortable 3-0 win for WaiBOP Futsal over Central-Futsal Hawke’s Bay, although the victors were indebted to the efforts of goalkeeper Harry Porritt, who pulled off a string of outstanding saves.
But the sizeable winning margin in that game proved to be a red herring for the rest of the weekend as the next encounter between the sides resulted in a narrow, come-from-behind 3-2 triumph for WaiBOP while Northern Futsal showed how much they had improved since picking up the wooden spoon last year with two draws against defending champions AFF Futsal, 3-3 and 4-4 respectively.
“The games were all highly-entertaining to watch and it was a perfect way to kick off the new-look national league,” says New Zealand Football Futsal Development Manager Dave Payne.
“The most pleasing thing was to see an increase in the standard of play compared to recent years, which underlines the great work being down around the country by the Futsal Development Officers in each federation and all others involved in the sport. It looks like this will be one of the most evenly-fought national leagues so far and it will be intriguing to see if the southern teams can match the entertainment provided in the north last weekend.”
There will certainly be enough talent on court at both venues for an impressive level of futsal to be played.
The Mainland region is rapidly carving out a reputation as a hotbed of up-and-coming talent after dominating the most recent editions of the National Youth Futsal Championships and will look to bring that form into the senior ranks under their re-branded moniker of Canterbury United.
Benji Lapslie won the Golden Boot for Mainland in the boys’ U-19 category at the youth championships in July and will be hoping to show he is just as lethal at senior level while there will be a safe pair of hands at the other end of the court in Futsal Whites squad member Atta Elayyan. Canterbury will certainly not be lacking in technical nous either as fixo Sam Lapslie, the brother of Benji, has an intimate knowledge of the game through leading the Futsal in Schools programme for Mainland Football while the federation’s Futsal Development Officer, Ronan Naicker, is the coach.
That level of futsal insight will be required to mastermind a positive outcome against Southern United, who are also playing under a new name after previously being known as Futsal South. The southerners made it all the way to last season’s final – where their run was unceremoniously ended with a 4-0 defeat to Auckland – and they will be determined to go one better in the new campaign.
Former Futsal White Michael Sannum is in the ranks while a trio of Brazilians will provide some South American flair in Daniel de Souza, Carlos Herrmann and goalkeeper Danniel Bocotios. Coach Darren Hart can also call on a batch of promising young talent with the next generation headlined by Benjamin Wallace, who led Kavanagh College to the senior boys’ title as player-coach at the NZSS National Futsal Championships in April.
Up in Palmerston North, a range of players with international experience will be on show with Futsal White Josh Margetts looking to drive Central-Manawatu on in his fiercely-competitive manner and being joined by captain Adam Cowan, whose name will be familiar to football fans after racking up a record-breaking number of appearances in the 11-a-side national league.
The experience of that duo will need to come to the fore against a Capital outfit packed full of ability. Having lost their title to Auckland last season, the Wellingtonians will be determined to wrestle it back and will again turn to trusty talismen Lucas de Silva and Miroslav Malivuk, who have both also worn the silver fern.
For further information and the full National Futsal League draw please click here
Live streaming will be available at the following link:
Squads for Futsal National League – Southern Division Home Series
Central Futsal-Manawatu: David Luke (GK), Lucian Armstrong, Adam Cowan, Ashish Sahayam, Phillip King, Josh Margetts, Jonathan Steele, Scott Mudgway, Joshua Primus Smith, Nathan Cooksley, Sam Larmer, Orin Ruaine-Prattley, Blair Lankshear, Zac Moxham (GK)
Coach: Matt Wallace
Manager: Stacy Meehan
Capital Futsal: Moshen Maddah (GK), Lucas De Silva, Enrico Merielles, Shingo Ina, Phil Thompson, Cameron Webber, Jherson Heredia, Alex Brodie, Khalid Razouk, Fraser Norrington, Izaac O’Hara, Miroslav Malivuk, Matt Edridge, Sean Beresford (GK)
Coach: Callum Holmes
Assistant coach: Jacques Cuccurullo
Manager: Todd Bryant
Canterbury United: Atta Elayyan (GK), Jacob Grosvenor, Taylor Catlow, Lewis Cumiskey, Rami Dawwas, Sam Lapslie, Benji Lapslie, Tom McGowan, Jake Neill, Bara’a Toubat, Shannen Vailuu, James Vallance, Michael White, Angus Hooper (GK)
Coach: Ronan Naicker
Manager: Martin Mitchell
Southern United: Fraser Hunter (GK), Sean McIntee, Michael Sannum, Thomas Petersen, Luuk van den Bergh, Benjamin Wallace, Daniel de Souza, Carlos Herrmann, Reid Hulleman, Michael Taylor, Sean Flett, Daniel Ramsay, Kasam Ali, Danniel Bocotios (GK)
Coach: Darren Hart
Manager: Marc Matsas