Defeat for the Lions in Dublin.
England 2-5 Kazakhstan
UEFA Futsal Cup Qualifying
National Basketball Arena, Dublin
Thursday 19 February 2009
England played their first game of the UEFA European Futsal Championship Preliminary Round in Dublin on Thursday night and lost to the group favourites, Kazakhstan.
The 5-2 scoreline did not accurately reflect the closely fought nature of this contest though, with England showing considerable progression in the international Futsal arena to challenge the Kazaks in a highly entertaining game.
England’s developing squad started the game warily, with the Kazaks immediately displaying the pedigree that has earned them such a highly-rated international Futsal reputation.
With England still cautiously finding their way into the game, Kazakhstan scored with a long-range effort that flew through a crowded area and into the bottom corner.
This had an immediate impact on England, who responded by increasing the tempo and quality of their play and dominating the end of the half with Hussein Isa scoring a memorable goal to draw England level.
Unfortunately, England showed their Futsal naivety in losing concentration in the spell of play straight after scoring and conceded a second goal just before half-time.
At the start of the second half England came roaring back, displaying outstanding skill and quality in controlling the game and Nick Colley gave the England team just the lift they needed to draw England level for the second time in the match.
At this stage, England were the driving force of the game and in the ascendency; Kazakhstan seemed surprised to be facing such a galvanised and well-organised England unit.
However, as the game wore on the superior movement and passing of the Kazaks combined with England occasionally squandering possession gave the opposition chance to score two goals in quick succession, capitalising on English errors.
England continued to battle and push hard to get back into contention, and went close on several occasions. In the last couple of minutes, Kazakhstan hit on the counter-attack as England drove forward, and sealed the game with their fifth goal.
England can have no complaints at being beaten by an excellent Kazakhstan team, but can reflect ruefully on a scoreline that does not quite suggest how closely fought much of this game had been. England showed much promise in this game and can take a number of positives from their performance into the next two games in this group against Republic of Ireland and Cyprus over the next three days.