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Fight for futsal supremacy reaches finale

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The fight to be known as the best futsal side in the country is set to come to a conclusion over the next three days as the Futsal National League wraps up at the ASB Sports Centre in Wellington.

All eight competing teams will gather in the capital for the second instalment of the National Series on Friday and Saturday, before the four highest-placed teams progress to the semi-finals and final on Sunday.

In the box seat at the moment are the Northern Comets and Capital, who have both lost on only one occasion and are sharing the lead with 25 points each. But Auckland are snapping at the heels of the pair, just three points further back in third, while defending champions Southern United, Waikato and the Canterbury United Dragons are also not out of the running.

Bay of Plenty have picked up just one win while fellow strugglers Central are the only side yet to register a point.

With as many as six teams still able to lift the trophy, the action will make for essential viewing for Wellington-based futsal fans while those not able to head along to the ASB Sports Centre will be able to take in all the drama via live streaming.

Having finished second last year and already on the verge of booking a return to the play-offs, Northern will enter the series in a promising position to at least repeat last year’s exploits and are in a confident frame of mind.

"The team and I are really looking forward to this last series, we’re only one point away from securing a spot in the semi-finals which has been one of our goals for this season," says coach Ouadhah Ragued, a former Futsal White.

The Comets earned their standing at the top of the table with a strong showing in the first National Series, which took place a fortnight ago at the Pulman Arena in Auckland. They were joined by Capital and Auckland in losing only one match but, ominously for their title rivals, Northern were understrength that weekend and Ragued now has a full complement to pick from.

"We have a number of returning players and are hoping for a fully-rested, full-strength squad for the final series," he says.

Skilful South American Felipe De Marchi Bernardi, Nikola Velkovski and Oliver Walsh are all back on deck, as are Art and Denny Twigg, the latter of whom returns after training with the Thailand U-20 national team. The Comets also possess the most lethal goal threat in the league on current form with Daniel Culpan leading the golden boot race with 13 strikes.

Neighbours Auckland will be boosted in that regard as Futsal White Stephen Ashby-Peckham has been named in the squad after being injured for the last series and remains their top scorer, despite sitting out those four matches. Fellow international Dylan Manickum will also be available and fully-focused on the small-sided version of the beautiful game after being sent off for Auckland City in the ISPS Handa Premiership last weekend.

But the other title contenders also have plenty of fire power to call on with Matt Brazier having already slotted nine goals as Southern look to defend their crown while Jordi Ditfort has 11 for Waikato and Benji Lapslie has notched 10 for Canterbury. The only team to feature more than once in the top five scorers are Northern, for whom Culpan is joined by nine-goal Bahram Ahmadi.

Interestingly, Capital do not currently have a player in the mix for the golden boot but have had no problem finding the net regardless, their 44 goals being shared across the squad. The leading scorer for Capital is Sam Wright with five while former Futsal White Miroslav Malivuk has four but has not been in action since the opening weekend due to injury and is still not available.

The last bout of action in the Futsal National League gets going tomorrow morning at the ASB Sports Centre in Wellington, for the draw, table and more information please click here

To view live streaming of the action please click here:

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