This past weekend Dec. 16th-18th the Saskatoon Futsal League (SFL) held its 1st Futsal Mini World Cup at the Family Focus court of the Saskatoon SaskTel Soccer Centre. The tournament was a great success with 8 participating teams in: Morocco, Ukraine, Peru, Iraq, Canada, Nigeria, Romania and China.
Group A consisted of: Ukraine, Peru, Morocco & Iraq.
Group B consisted of: Nigeria, Romania, Canada & China.
Group B ended up being a very tight group with most games coming down to 2 or 3 goal differentials, and where the eventual finalists came out of this group. Canada and Nigeria were the teams to advance out of this group with a surprise China taking it to the last game to keep in suspense who would be the 2nd team to advance, but they eventually fell to Nigeria 5-3 in the last group game.
In group A, Ukraine dominated the competition finishing in 1st place with Peru coming in 2nd place.
The semifinals were set up with 2 very intriguing matches. Ukraine vs Nigeria was the clear heavy tilt and it didn’t disappoint. Nigeria jumped out to a commanding 3-0 lead before Ukraine started to make thing happen and brought the game back to 3-2. The last 5 minutes were very intense as Ukraine was pushing for the equalizer and Nigeria pushing for a more comfortable lead. Abumere Okonofua made some key saves in net for Nigeria and they finally were able to get 1 more assurance goal to end the game 4-2 and guarantee their passage to the Final.
The other semifinal Canada vs Peru on paper didn’t look as intriguing but it ended up being a very close contest. Canada led at halftime 2-0 and was dominating, with Peru’s goalkeeper keeping them in the game. The 2nd half was a very different story, Peru started to carry the play and managed to tie the game 2-2. Canada continued to create chances but couldn’t finish the game off until the last 3 minutes when they were able to capitalize on a counter attack and Marcos Henderson scored the eventual winner, and with this the Final was set up Canada vs Nigeria which promised to be a good game as they played each other in the round robin with Canada winning that match 5-4!
So the final was set, and this game didn’t disappoint! The atmosphere was great with a very good crowd on hand to watch the final. The game was a tactical battle with Canada deciding to drop and defend tight to prevent Nigeria’s counter attacks and speed as they had a much smaller bench due to injuries. On the other hand, Canada tried to take advantage of set-pieces and counter-attacks. Canada scored first of a set piece with Jerson Barandica cracking a shot to the top corner, and this is how the 1st half ended (1-0 Canada ). For the 2nd half, Canada continued to defend tight and Darko Hardi took advantage of two chances on counter attacks to extend the lead 3-0. The last 10 minutes it was the Alexander Dyachenko show! Nigeria came back with a vengeance and if it weren’t for the great saves of Dyachenko in net, this game couldn’t have been easily tied. The final whistle went and Canada were deserving Champions going undefeated through the tournament!
Top Scorer: Darko Hardi (Canada)
Best Goalie: Alexander Dyachenko (Canada)
We look forward to the 2017 Futsal World Cup where we will want to continue to expand to 12 teams and with a target date of early December for the tournament. For pictures, and more information on the tournament and what our Saskatoon Futsal League (SFL) is hoping to accomplish with Futsal in the Saskatoon Community follow us on facebook at ‘Saskatoon Futsal League´.