NSW Thunder off to Asia

NSW Thunder took out the Open double (Men's and Women's) at the 2008 National Futsal Championship held in Canberra recently. NSW Thunder won 11 titles, with NSW Lightning 2, Queensland 1 and Victoria 1, while won was drawn.

NSW Thunder took out the Open double (Men's and Women's) at the 2008 National Futsal Championship held in Canberra in early January. NSW Thunder won 11 titles, with NSW Lightning 2, Queensland 1 and Victoria 1.

The Men's Final was a classic encounter, with Thunder only sealing victory with a free-shot 10 seconds from the end of extra time, scored by Qantas Futsalroo Adrian Vizzari.

The goal gave Thunder a 2-1 victory and them a place in the AFC Futsal Champions League.

Earlier, the double sending off of key Thunder players Lachlan Wright and Simon Keith seemed to have handed the initiative to an ACT side looking to claim back-to-back National Futsal Championships. Both Thunder players were dismissed for second bookings, but the Cobras were unable to exploit their numerical advantage despite Tony Aleksovski striking the base of the post and Elia Salloum seeing his one-on-one well blocked by the excellent Peter Spathis in the Thunder goal.

It was NSW Thunder who had the best of the opening half creating numerous opportunities to fire in shots at the Cobras- goal, only to see them repelled by the safe hands of Konstantinou, but it came as no surprise when they took the lead after eight minutes. Lachlan Wright broke down the left flank and fired a shot that took a slight deflection on its way into the top corner.

The final was a tense affair against two evenly matched teams and Salloum and Keith had a coming together on the edge of the Cobras- penalty area which resulted in a yellow card for both players.

The momentum swung in ACT Cobras favour in a crazy ten minute spell in the second stanza which saw the two dismissals and a Cobras equaliser.

It was Pat Ross-Magee who levelled the scores after 23 minutes when the fleet-footed youngster collected a wonderful chipped pass from Trent Flanigan and slipped the ball casually past Spathis and into the net.

Shortly afterwards Wright was sent off for collecting a brace of bookings within minutes of each other, the first for a foul and the second for stupidly kicking the ball away to prevent a quick Cobras- kick-in, and team mate Keith was quick to follow after a challenge on Elliot Zwangobani brought up his second yellow card of the game.

With the man advantage the Cobras strung together a superb passage of football and really tested the Thunder-s mettle, only to be denied by some expert goalkeeping and top defending. Tony Aleksovski, in particular, went close on a number of occasions for the Cobras with the increasingly influential Flanigan the main orchestrator.

With no further goals scored the match entered extra-time, which was a tight and predictably cagey affair with neither side willing to risk conceding the crucial goal.

The Cobras had the chance to win it when Matt Menser stepped up for a free-shot in front of goal, but his well-struck effort was parried to safety. And so it was left to Vizzari to seal on the affair, after being given a free-shot in front of goal, due to a sixth-foul violation. He kept his nerve to fire low into the corner and send the Thunder to Asia.

SQUADS ACT Cobras: 12. Angelo KONSTANTINOU, 3. Ryan KYRIANOU, 5. Elliot ZWANGOBANI, 6. Ben KLUG, 8. Adrian DOWLING, 9. Elia SALLOUM, 10. Matt WHYTE, 13. Matt MENSER, 16. Trent FLANIGAN, 17. Marcel MUNOZ, 20. Tony ALEKSOVSKI, 21. Pat ROSS-MAGEE

Yellow Cards: Elia SALLOUM, Trent FLANIGAN

NSW Thunder: 2. Peter SPATHIS, 3. Tobias SEETO, 4. Danny MARTINEZ, 5, Simon KEITH, 6. Adrian PAINE, 7. Rhys GIOVENALLI, 8. Andres GOMEZ, 9. Chris ZEBALLOS, 10. Lachlan WRIGHT, 11. Marino MASUMELI, 21. Roberto MAIORANA, 28. Adrian VIZZARI

Yellow Cards: Simon KEITH (x2), Lachlan WRIGHT (x2) Sent Off: Simon KEITH, Lachlan WRIGHT

GOALS: 0-1 - Lachlan WRIGHT (NSW Thunder) 8 minutes, 1-1 - Pat ROSS-MAGEE (ACT Cobras) 23 minutes, 1-2 Adrian VIZZARI (NSW Thunder) 49 minutes

The Women's Final was an all-NSW affair, with Thunder coming out on top against Lightning. A solitary goal from Natalie Spirovski settled the cagey contest.

Spirovski struck the crucial blow fourteen minutes into the clash, cutting in from the left to fire a low drive beyond the reach of Lightning goalkeeper Melissa Khoury, who was magnificent in repelling the Thunder-s repeated efforts. In truth the magnitude of the occasion seemed to stifle the play of both teams as neither line-up put together a fluid, cohesive pattern of play. In fact, the two teams were very evenly matched and despite the Thunder-s favouritism, the Lightning had chances of their own to send the match into extra-time.

Spirovski, who was voted MVP of the Final, had an opportunity to settle the match late on, but her driven right foot shot was well blocked by the Lightening defence. It mattered little to the Thunder players though who were ecstatic at the final whistle as they claimed the 2009 Open Women-s National Championship.

SQUADS NSW Thunder: 1. Antonella OLIVIA, 2. Elyce GOSS, 3. Claire WALSH, 4. Natalie SPIROVSKI, 5. Fabianna PERFILIO, 6. Hayley BUCKINGHAM, 7. Nicole LAWS, 8. Renee TOMKINS, 9. Brooke COWIE, 10. Caitlin JARVIE, 11. D. BOWERING, 21. Trudy BARTLETT

NSW Lightening: 1. Melissa KHOURY, 2. Chanel TURNER, 3. Kahlee DOYLE, 4. Maryanne MIKHAIL, 5. Amy SARANDSPOULOS, 6. Lauren MOORE, 7. Justine VELLA, 8. Jo-Anne SALIBA, 9. Alexandria SMITH, 10. Rhiannon FLEMING, 11. Effie RODOPOULOS, 21. Tani ROSEKELLY

Goals: 1-0 - Natalie SPIROVSKI (NSW Thunder) 14 minutes