The side to beat in the Futsal National League is pace-setters Southern United as the competition approaches a weekend in which all of the teams will be in action for the first time.
So far, the matches have been restricted to regional rivalry with four series taking place across the country between representatives in the Northern Division – Northern, Auckland, WaiBOP and Central-Hawke’s Bay – and the Southern Division – Central-Manawatu, Capital, Canterbury United and Southern United.
But the league is about to get thrown wide open with the inaugural ‘National Travelling Series –Southern Division Hosting’ set to take place over this Saturday and Sunday at the ASB Sports Centre in Wellington. It will provide each team with the chance to face their counterparts from the other division and will give a strong indication of who is likely to be challenging for the title by the time the league wraps up in Auckland on the weekend of December 9 to 11.
Southern are currently putting their hands up after enjoying a successful time of it in the Southern Division Travelling Series last weekend in Christchurch – the first time national league futsal has been witnessed in the garden city.
The Cantabrian public responded well to seeing the country’s top futsal exponents on their doorstep and came out in their hundreds to the ARA Institute of Canterbury over the two days. They would not have left disappointed after seeing a huge amount of drama, an incredible 90 goals being scored across the eight matches.
The series kicked off in the high-scoring manner that would continue over the weekend with Southern eventually edging out Central-Manawatu 11-10 after an epic encounter. Southern then fell to Capital – their first loss of the league – but bounced back quickly to get their revenge on Capital in the next match before recording another win against Central-Manawatu. Southern’s Brazilian contingent came to the fore with Carlos Herrmann scoring seven goals across the series and his fellow countryman Daniel de Souza notching six.
“We’re happy with where we are, we came here to do a job and get as many points as we could,” Southern skipper Sean McIntee said. “It’s still going to be a tough grind but hopefully we can build on this for the next series.”
The series’ other successful side was Canterbury, who went through undefeated in front of their rowdy home fans, securing two wins and a pair of draws. Coach Ronan Naicker and his side started with a narrow victory over Capital and followed that with another thrilling success against Central-Manawatu before being held to draws by both opponents in their remaining matches. Tom McGowan took most of the glory for the hosts after scoring two hat-tricks while Luis Augusto Ebrahim also hit a triple in the win over Central-Manawatu.
“Tom played phenomenally well, both in possession and defensively,” Naicker said. “But all of the boys are learning and improving which is a huge positive.”
Manawatu were competitive throughout but fortune did not seem to favour them, finding themselves on the wrong end of a couple of narrow scorelines, including that remarkable opening game against Southern. They went on to fall to Canterbury and Southern, the only positive outcome being a draw in their other match with Canterbury. Adam Cowan hit four goals in the first-up defeat to Southern while Nathan Cooksley struck a hat-trick. Lucian Armstrong, Joshua Smith, Ashish Sahayam and Jonathan Steele were also regular scorers for Manawatu over the series.
Having competed so fiercely in the first three matches, captain Adam Cowan felt tiredness crept into his side’s display in the final 8-3 loss to Southern.
“I think it was just fatigue, we gave it our all in the draw against Canterbury and ran out of gas I think,” he said. “It showed in the last game, we made silly mistakes and didn’t track runners although, to be fair, they scored some good goals.”
Capital will also be disappointed with their points tally after picking up only one win, albeit a hugely impressive one over league leaders Southern. That arrived in the second match after the Wellingtonians began with a loss to Canterbury. Capital could not follow up their splendid effort in the return fixture with Southern but were able to finish on a relatively pleasing note with a draw against Canterbury. Much of Capital’s attacking threat was carried by Izaac O’Hara, who found the net six times.
“We’re not happy because we expected a bit more but there’s a lot more games to go and I’m sure we’ll pull together and be up there,” Capital captain Khalid Razouk said. “We’re on our home court this weekend and are looking forward to that – we’re going to bring it.”
The Futsal National League returns this weekend with the inaugural National Travelling Series – Southern Division Hosting at the ASB Sports Centre in Wellington, for more information and to view the full fixtures and standings please click here
Futsal National League – Southern Division Travelling Series
Southern United 11 (Daniel de Souza 2, Sean McIntee 2, Carlos Herrmann 2, Reid Hulleman, Benjamin Wallace, Michael Sannum, Ben O’Farrell, own goal)
Central Futsal-Manawatu 10 (Adam Cowan 4, Nathan Cooksley 3, Jonathan Steele 2, Jake Besenyi)
Canterbury United 6 (Tom McGowan 3, Kaiea Karennang 2, Sam Lapslie)
Capital Futsal 5 (Khalid Razouk, Izaac O’Hara, Fraser Norrington, Jherson Heredia, own goal)
Capital Futsal 7 (Thomas Withnall 2, Shingo Ina, Izaac O’Hara 2, Cameron Webber, Khalid Razouk)
Southern United 4 (Ben O’Farrell 2, Sean McIntee, Carlos Herrmann)
Central Futsal-Manawatu 6 (Lucian Armstrong 2, Adam Cowan, Ashish Sahayam, Joshua Smith, Jonathan Steele)
Canterbury United 7 (Luis Augusto Ebrahim 3, Kaiea Karennang 2, Rami Dawwas, Evandro Madruga)
Southern United 4 (Carlos Herrmann 2, Reid Hulleman, Daniel de Souza)
Capital Futsal 3 (Izaac O’Hara, Matt Edridge, Fraser Norrington)
Canterbury United 6 (Tom McGowan 3, Luis Augusto Ebrahim 2, Michael White)
Central Futsal-Manawatu 6 (Lucian Armstrong 2, Joshua Smith 2, Ashish Sahayam, Jonathan Steele)
Central Futsal-Manawatu 3 (Ashish Sahayam, Ben Ravenwood, Jonathan Steele)
Southern United 8 (Daniel de Souza 3, Carlos Herrmann 2, Michael Sannum, Ben O’Farrell, own goal)
Capital Futsal 2 (Izaac O’Hara 2)
Canterbury United 2 (Evandro Madruga, Kaiea Karennang)