South Africa crowned champions and Futsal takes off in Newlands

Estimated reading time:4 minutes, 41 seconds

The South African National Futsal team arrived in Mauritius, mesmerised everyone with sleek skills and goals enroute to lifting the Four Nations Futsal Tournament trophy on Sunday, 18 March.

South Africa were invited to a round robin tournament that featured Comoro, Reunion Islands and the hosts Mauritius. Led by coach Chris Naidoo who is making his international debut at the helm of the national team, South Africa won all their three matches.They began the tournament with a 6-0 win over Reunion then followed that up with a convincing 16-0 victory over Comoro and closed the tournament with tightly contested 5-3 win over the hosts in front of a loud singing.

Mauritius came into the game at the back of a disappointing loss to Reunion Islands and came all guns blazing against South Africa as they were looking to finish with a bang in front of their home crowd and it took 12 minutes for the first goal of the match to come.Curtis do Santos unleashed a thunderbolt that treaded through the Mauritian defence and gave the goalkeeper no chance sending the crowd into deep silence.

Five minutes later, the crowd came alive as the hosts equalised Mohammad Nuckucheddy whose goal was the first for South Africa to concede in 97 minutes of action at the tournament. With the match seemingly in the balance, the youngest player in the team Sabelo “Chief” Mazibuko restored the lead for SA as he doubled the score with aplomb after a good exchange of passes in the 18th minute of the opening stanza.

The goal seemed to have shifted the momentum to coach Naidoo’s boys as they attacked even more and their efforts were rewarded in the 23rd minute, Do Santos added a third goal to send the match to half time with the score at 3-1 to the visitors. The half time talk seemed to have rejuvenated Mauritius as they came back with renewed vigour but Curtis dos Santos gave them a calming tablet as he scored his third goal of the match to make it 4-1 in the very first minute of the second half.

Coach Naidoo urged his players to keep pressing the Mauritians and another chance fell to the team’s talisman, Curtis do Santos who powered the ball into the back of the net to complete his quartet of goals. The home team refused to take the beating lying down and continued to raid the SA half with an array of attacks which eventually paid dividends in the 12th minute of the second half as Perle beat Muzi Mazibuko to make it 5-2.

With the game seemingly done and dusted Mauritius then got another goal in the 17th minute of the second half to setup a nail-biting finish but coach Naidoo’s boys played with maturity to hold on to their 5-3 lead until the end. The win ensures South Africa take home a trophy and gold medals while Reunion beat Comoro in the day’s other match to finish second and bag silver

SAFA President, Dr Danny Jordaan congratulated the team for their exceptional performance.

“Congratulations to the SA Futsal team and the entire technical staff. You have done the country proud by winning your first international tournament this year” said Jordaan.

Back in South Africa their Head Coach Chris Naidoo is continuing to have an impact on the ground.  Futsal has kicked off in Newlands and its making an indelible impact on the youngsters involved in the sport. The Futsal programme in the area was sparked after meetings with Reservoir Hills Sports and Recreation Club (RHSRC) chairman and coach of futsal team, eThekwini City, Chris Naidoo, and the executive members of the Newlands futsal team.

“According to Naidoo, last year, the Newlands team visited Siripat Grounds to play in a friendly tournament. The Newlands team were beaten by a massive margin. A meeting between the Newlands executive members and Naidoo took place in December 2017.”

The purpose of the meeting was to emphasize the importance of Futsal on the overall development of a child who wants to excel in soccer. Naidoo clearly illustrated how futsal prepares youth for the bigger 11-a-side game.

The Newlands executive members were excited at the new phenomenon and promised to follow the advice of Naidoo. From then, the Newlands team applied the Futsal programme in all their training sessions.

“Last week, the Newlands outfit returned to Reservoir Hills with about 40 children ranging from 10 to 17 years of age. They then competed in the under 12, under 14 and over 14 categories.”

The Newlands teams not only matched the Reservoir Hills lads, they also beat them in the various age groups. “This clearly illustrates how Futsal improves a player or a team in a short space of time. We have personally witnessed how the kids have developed into better players,” said Vikash from Newlands.

“The smaller court and fewer players on the pitch allow players to have more touches on the ball. The beauty of Futsal is that players are constantly on the move, they are further expected to attack, defend and shoot for goal. Ball control and accurate passing are the key to excelling in this game,” said Vikash.

“The Newlands youth attended the recent National Futsal League match played at the UKZN Westville Indoor Centre. The youth were so excited that they insisted on being photographed with the current South African Futsal champions.”

Naidoo had nothing but praise for the Newlands executive members for implementing the programme and wished that other districts could introduce Futsal into their sporting programmes.

“Undoubtedly, this is the best development tool for soccer,” said Naidoo.

Original sources: SAFA and Over report Rising Sun