England 10-5 Saudi Arabia
World Deaf Futsal Championship
Friday 9 November 2007
England’s Deaf Futsal team kicked off their World Championship with a fine 10-5 victory against the newcomers, Saudi Arabia in Sofia on Friday.
Peter Sturgess’s men arrived in Sofia with high optimism ahead of the competition, and with 12 fully fit players in the squad, nothing could have put the national team in any doubt and they made the ideal start to the tournament.
There is a strong group stage ahead for the Three Lions, as England are grouped together with Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Slovakia and strong rivals the Netherlands, whilst Guinea had failed to register at the championship due to funding and Visa difficulties, which allows England an extra day training on Saturday.
In the early stages of the game, England were put on the back foot, as the Saudis were keen to put their strategy to the test but with Taljinder Singh, playing in his second international championship, at the heart of the defence and reading the game quickly to minimise their impact, England had a steady foundation to build on.
They were soon a goal up too, after an outstanding run from Daniel Hogan ended with a low shot flying into the left side of the goal.
The Saudis stepped up a gear though and got an equaliser through one-on-one with goalkeeper Sam Kitchin, who was helpless in preventing the goal. However, England had Kitchin to thank as he went on to make several vital saves to keep them level.
England soon found their feet though, with a dream debut championship goal from Everton’s Liam Coventry, who found the net after outstanding work from captain John Atkinson on the left hand side.
Atkinson found the third goal for England soon before the break, when a looped throw from Kitchin found the skipper and he coolly went past the goalkeeper and chipped the ball into an empty net.
The second half saw some good control of the game from England, who took their game into the next level with an attacking style of Futsal to pile the pressure on the Saudis.
However, Saudi Arabia blasted two quick goals to take the scoreline to 3-3 and this prompted England into another purple patch, scoring six goals in 10 minutes with Hogan, Atkinson, Lampert, Dalziel and Dixon contributing to the score sheet.
The Saudis added two late goals to reduce the arrears before Atkinson interpreted a Saudi error and made it ten to complete the scoring.
Sturgess could not have asked for a better start from his team, with three points in the bag and a further three points guaranteed on Saturday, as England’s scheduled match against Guinea has been declared as a walkover.
England will instead have a training day, in preparation for the three important games ahead of them with Switzerland, Slovakia and the Netherlands to come in their qualifying group.
Switzerland – Sunday 11 November, 10:30am (8:30am GMT)
Slovakia – Monday 12 November 4:00pm (2:00pm GMT)
Netherlands – Tuesday 13 November 5:30pm (3:30pm GMT)