England’s Futsal lions took on the challenge of the PTT Thailand 5 Futsal Tournament this week, facing the host nation, Uzbekistan and Malaysia.
The yearly prestigious tournament has been won previously by top Futsal nations such as Brazil and Argentina and Mike Skubala’s squad put in a credible performance by picking up a win, draw and defeat from their three games.
- 20/10/18 - Thailand 4-0 England
- 21/10/18 - Uzbekistan 1-1 England
- 23/10/18 - Mayasia 2-3 England
The Lions flew out knowing they would play Thailand in their first game and with the home side being ranked 17th in the world and a Futsal World Cup team, Skubala knew it was going to a big challenge.
At half time the game was still 0-0, but in the second half Thailand showed their quality by scoring twice before Skubala took a role of the dice to use a fly-keeper which also fell Thailand’s way with the game ending 4-0.
The following day, England were back in action against another higher-ranked team in Uzbekistan, who also qualified for the last World Cup.
It started at super intensity with both teams chasing an early goal, before Calvin Dickson broke the deadlock for England to put them ahead the break.
England sustained their intensity and quality in the second half and defended well, before Uzbekistan equalised with less than two minutes to play following their use of the fly-keeper.
After a day’s break, England faced Malaysia in their final match of the trip. It proved to be an open affair too, with both teams creating chances before Malaysia opened the scoring.
But Stuart Cook brought England level via a quick counter attack, before Liam Palfreeman put Skubala’s men in front following a clever set-piece goal.
England built on that lead in the second half as Jordan Edge rounded off some good work from Richard Ward to make it 3-1, before Malaysia pulled a goal back to leave a tense few minutes where England had to defend well against the fly.
“There’s no doubt with the travel schedule and the opposition, it has been a great test for us,” said Skubala.
“But managing to compete with all these teams is important. If we had managed to hold on against Uzbekistan to win the game it would have been a superb result, but that’s Futsal.”
England have now risen to their highest-ever ranking, breaking into 49th place for the first time in the history of the national Futsal team.
The next challenge for the national team will be the Home Nations Tournament in Newry, Northern Ireland on 30 November - 2 December.