The Australian Futsalroos warmed up for their 2019 AFF Fustal Championship with a 3-2 success against Solomon Islands at Valentine Sports Park on Sunday.
Warming up for their attempt to qualify for 2020 FIFA Futsal World Cup through the AFF Championship, the Futsalroos scored in the first minute through Greg Giovenali then added strikes from Wade Giovenali and Nathan Niski combined with a dogged defensive display to head off to Vietnam with a victorious send off.
The 2019 AFF Fustal Championship pits South East Asia’s eight top teams against each other on the road to the World Cup. Rob Varela’s 14-man squad will take on host nation Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia in Group B in Ho Chi Minh City starting from Monday, 21 October.
The top two advance to the semi-finals and the top three finishers qualify for the 16-team AFC Futsal Championship in Turkmenistan in February 2020.
Solomon Islands proved to be stiff opposition for the Futsalroos. Their boisterous support kept them going through the contest and the noise when Jeffery Bule scored followed by George Stevenson’s Powerplay goal late in the piece nearly brought the house down. They will now set off for their OFC Futsal Nations Cup in New Caledonia.
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Looking to get themselves tuned up for their trip to Vietnam, the Futsalroos got off to the perfect start when Greg Giovenali tapped home at the far post after an incisive move, made it 1-nil after two minutes.
Much of the early play continued to be with the hosts. Carlos De Oliveira picked off a pass then shot low then Daniel Fornito had a trio of chances that slashed wide of the goal.
Solomon Islands' first opportunity came through Marlon Sia rampaging down the right side before he fed Elis Mana inside who was denied smartly by Futsalroos keeper Gavin O’Brien. The Kuru Kuru started to come into their own late in the half.
Australia continued to be resolute in defense, as they repelled Solomon Islands. James Egata had the final chance for the visitors as he thrashed wide but the Futsalroos held their slender 1-nil advantage into the break.
Coming out from the break, Solomon Islands broke through Charlie Otainao, the attacker swept past a pair of Australian defenders then shot high. Otainao was in the action again on another breakaway which saw O’Brien make a huge stop.
His courage was rewarded with the Australians second goal. Daniel Fogarty sparked into action, firstly striking the post in the 24th then he started a transition which ended with Nathan Niski slamming home for 2-nil.
Solomon Islands issued an immediate response which brought a huge cheer from their support that was nestled in the right-hand corner of Valentine Sports Park. Jeffery Bule snatched the ball from an Australian then fired home, 2-1.
The game started to stretch which offered Australia the chance to score their third. Greg Giovenali wound up a shot from the point which was turned home by his brother, Wade Giovenali, restored the Futsalroos two-goal advantage, 3-1.
Being behind two didn’t deter Solomon Islands. They continued to push forward and keep the ball moving. The visitors looked to have brought it back when Otainao latched onto the end of the movement but it was judged to have not crossed the line.
Next Elliot Ragamo cut past a pair of defenders then dug out an effort which was denied by O’Brien again. Solomon Islands went on the powerplay which brought custodian Anthony Talo into the action but he rocketed one high.
We were set up for a grandstand finish as Solomon Island continued on the powerplay. They worked the opening with the ball across the court before George Stevenson thrashed home, 3-2 and the away support willed their men forward again.
Bule had one final chance on the breakaway as the crowd rose to their feet as the attacker strode down the court and tried to fling one past O’Brien but the Australian shot stopper stonewalled him and gave them a victorious send off to the AFF Futsal Championships.
Speaking afterwards Futsalroos coach Rob Varela praised his side’s defensive effort: “The first thirty-seven minutes we played well, continued on from Friday night then we played dumb futsal for the last three minutes and let them back in. We defended the powerplay well and the thing to take from this contest is the fact they never broke us down in either game.
“They scored from our mistakes in both games which is something that we will need to work on moving forward but overall, I am happy with how we defended."
For Solomon Islands' Vinie Leinte, the coach considered these pair of fixtures against Australia a success and hoped this would be a stepping stone for his side moving forward.
“It was a much more physical game tonight. In our hearts and minds, we drew this game tonight which is a massive achievement and boost in confidence headed into the finals. We have worked hard for the last twelve months and deserved to get there," said Leinte.
“Games like this prepare us mentally for those challengers. We want to thank Australia, FFA and the supporters that came out tonight. There needs to be more games like this but two games was enough. I think we displayed great courage and skills so the future is bright for us."
Sunday 13 October 2019
Valentine Sports Park, Glenwood
Referee: Darius Turner
Assistant Referees: Jonathan Moore & Cameron Lee
Fourth Official: Jake Rose
Australia 3 (Greg Giovenali, Wade Giovenali, Niski)
Solomon Islands 2 (Bule, Stevenson)
Australia: 1. O’BRIEN Gavin, 4. GIOVENALI Greg, 5. NISKI Nathan, 6. GIOVENALI Wade, 8. FORNITO Daniel, 9. LYNCH Grant, 10. FOGARTY Daniel, 11. DE OLIVEIRA Carlos, 12. HAIM Andrew, 13. SWEEDAN Ahmed, 14. DE MELO Ethan
Red cards: nil
Solomon Islands: 1. TALO Anthony, 2. HOU Alvin, 3. RAGOMO Elliot, 4. STEVENSON George, 5. SIA Marlon, 6. OTAINAO Charlie, 7. EGETA James, 8. BULE Jeffery, 9. WETNEY Jack, 10. OSIFELO Sammy, 11. MAKAU Coleman, 12. ATA Charlie, 13. MANA Elis 14. RAY Alvin
Red cards: nil