Futsal South 1, Auckland Football-Futsal 0
Capital Futsal 1, WaiBOP Futsal 1
ASB Stadium, Auckland, February 9 2013
20 games in two days. Free entry. Closely fought clashes with oodles of skill on display. Thrills, spills and upsets. Why wouldn’t you get on down to Kohimarama and get in amongst it? Apart from the fact that it’s a gloriously sunny Auckland weekend outside with not a cloud in the sky and the pull of the beach is strong, there is no other rational excuse. And that is exactly why Mother Nature gives us 24 hours in a day. Because yesterday’s futsal started at 11am and ended at 11pm, with so many games to choose from and with any given team capable of beating any other, dipping in and out is more than just possible, it’s delightful. Plus, with Auckland’s much adored Mission Bay just down the road, an ice cream and a paddle are only a few minutes’ drive away.
The two games I decided to take in last night were absolutely inspired choices if I do say so myself. Auckland and South shared the lead after the first series held in Dunedin some weeks ago. South, on their home court at that time, were a bit of a surprise packet coming from fifth in last year’s national league. While defending champions Auckland are never a surprise. They dominate many a New Zealand sport with the sheer weight of their half of the country’s population and futsal is no exception.
It wasn’t plain sailing for the JAFAs over the course of yesterday though. A shock defeat at the hands of Mainland earlier in the day meant they entered the court for this match needing a win to stay on top. South, on the other hand, had fallen right back into the pack. Losses to Hawkes Bay and Capital had seen them slip back to fifth.
But that didn’t stop this game from being a fascinating one. Auckland’s sheer class showed as they clattered many a shot off South’s posts, crossbar and goalie. South weren’t without chances of their own though and this had all the hallmarks of a top of the table clash. It looked like ending in a stalemate until literally the last half second of the match when Futsal South’s Carlos Herrmann scored an incredible individual goal to nick it at the death. The southerners were delirious with glee and the Auckland crowd stunned. Magnificent stuff.
In the other game I saw, bottom of the table WaiBOP took on Capital – a rematch of a fantastic 3-3 draw that took place in Dunedin. Waikato, still without a win at this level, looked like they were more than capable of making up with pluck what they seemingly lack in resources. Wellington on the other hand looked cool, calm and collected going about their work with patience and quiet determination. This made for a very interesting contrast of style and approach.
Waikato bludgeoned a goal in the first half to lead 1-0 at the break, but Wellington refused to be rattled and positioned themselves well to capitalise on any opposition mistake that came their way. It finally came in the form of a goalkeeper error – a stopped shot was thrown straight back into the path of a Capital attacker who pounced and punished the mooloo men.
Another draw for WaiBOP then, who must be wondering what they have to do to get a win in this league. The one time when Capital did let their air of quiet superiority slip was at the final whistle when the point was clearly less than they had hoped for. A win would have put them right in amongst the leaders and the disappointment of not quite getting there was written all over their faces.
Last year I attended a futsal international between New Zealand and Australia and I blogged at the time that I wasn’t overly enthused by what I saw. Yesterday’s futsal experience was completely different. Both of the games I saw were less structured and therefore more exciting. The results were closer and I found the skills on display more apparent. Perhaps because I’m getting used to the game and knew a little more about what to expect, or perhaps because the lower standard makes some players look better than they do at international level.
At any rate, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s on today until 4pm and concludes in March with the third series in Wellington. If you get a chance to go – go. You won’t regret it.
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.