Alex Sykes fills us in on the latest from Malaysia, as the KL World 5's competition comes to a close.
Whilst the England Futsal squad are in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the KL World 5's Futsal competition, we will be hearing from several players throughout the week as they bring you their exclusive thoughts on all manner of things from training, games and the hectic schedule in place. Alex Sykes, England's top scorer in the tournament so far, is the latest to bring us up-to-date as he looks back on the first two games and what takes place inbetween matches.
After a very difficult opening game against Argentina, we woke up for breakfast surprisingly upbeat, with no real injury worries and ready for Indonesia later on in the day. With being so far away from home, it has been reassuring to be looked after by the staff at such a good hotel. The food so far has been top drawer and this does make things a lot easier when results are not necessarily going the right way.
Our morning continued with an intense video analysis session led by Delly, where we were looking at our deficiencies in the Argentina game. When you look at the world rankings, one may think that 12-1 was respectable, but as a group we pride ourselves upon trying to rectify silly mistakes in our game play. The video analysis we do on a daily basis really highlights our mistakes and hopefully helps us to look to put things right. As a group of lads we could see that we gifted them at least a couple of goals and for many parts of the game, we managed to restrict what is, a very talented, Argentinian side.
Next step was to try and get rid of any aches and pains from the previous day (especially important for an old timer like me!) and Dawn Scott has been instrumental in keeping the lads upbeat with another pool recovery session. Then on to the main event of the day – Indonesia. This game had been targeted by the lads and staff as what looked to be our best chance of a win. We had seen them narrowly miss out on a result against the hosts, losing 3-2 so we were confident of getting something out of the game.
We started brightly and were well within ourselves at 0-0, restricting the opponents to few chances and also working hard to create space for each other. With such a demanding physical game plan we have, you are always reliant upon your team mates to help create space and passing options and for much of the first half, we achieved this. Unfortunately though, we were undone, yet again by a couple of lapses in concentration and one very good finish. We conceded the third with 30 seconds to go so the second half was always going to be an uphill struggle.
Our second half started much better and we were first to score through the captain, Rich Follett (pictured above). Yet another great technical finish from the skipper who is also my regular travel partner. At this level though, teams are unrelenting, Indonesia demonstrated an excellent powerplay tactic due to an injury to their second choice ‘keeper and with their number one suspended for this match they had to be tactically astute, which they were and that led to them killing the game off with a 7-1 lead.
Fortunately for us we did create some more chances that could have bought us closer, but it was not to be. We were able to get one back right at the death where I was able to get on the end of a good move. Although it’s always nice to score, there was an overwhelming feeling of disappointment amongst the boys as we knew we could’ve done much, much better but retorting to a simple five-a-side mentality doesn’t work in this game.
The evening for five of us was then taken up with a coaching clinic at a local Futsal centre. Our resident FA Skills Coach, Marc Canham was responsible for recruiting four other expert coaches!
Unfortunately for me being a PE Teacher, I was amongst the four! After a very disappointing defeat, it’s always hard to cheer up, but the journey to our coaching venue supplied a lot of laughs. We were in the esteemed company of our local guide but unfortunately though, he got lost five or six times and a 10 minute journey suddenly turned into over an hour. The highlight being him trying to reverse 200 metres back down the main KL freeway with a mobile in his hand and not being able to see out of the back window!
The coaching gave us, as players, enormous satisfaction to put something back into the game and help some local players here in Kuala Lumpur. Once there, it was very similar to being back at school except it was a lot warmer than Gloucestershire is at nine o’clock in the evening!
Our next game against Australia will be tough. It’s now our first chance to play an international Futsal fixture against an English speaking nation which will make a strange change. With only a few games left, we are adamant we will get a result along the way and hopefully give some cheer to all those back home looking at our results.