City 5 players representing the state of Pondicherry earned their place in the 2020 Futsal National Championship in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh from January 29th to February 2nd. This tournament is run by the Futsal Association of India which is also linked with the Association Mundial de Futsal. The best players from this tournament are ultimately selected for the Futsal World Cup in July. The boys are all led by their veteran coach, Colas, who was the captain of the Pondicherry team who won the tournament in the previous year with the senior team. They aimed to achieve the same goal with the U15 team and with the pressure in full effect, our players represented the territory of Pondicherry with pride.
Their performance in the first two days of the tournament put them at the top ranking amongst the fierce competition. They scored 21 total goals while securing 4 wins against Andhra Pradesh (7-2), Tamil Nadu (2-0), Haryana (5-1), and Gujarat (6-2). Their victories were fueled by Esteban (only 12 years old) and his relentless attacking with 14 goals. There was also added scoring from Darshan, Nish and Aadish. The defense was strong only giving up 5 goals in 4 games and it was in big part to excellent saves by Arya and solid play from Harsh. Additionally, there was great leadership from the captain, Kishore. Also, the substitutes Benjamin, Karthik, Raghav and Shrivanth made a great contribution by coming into the game with great energy.
Moving forward into the semi final round of the tournament, they continued to take advantage of their momentum. They faced off against Telangana, who were crowned champion of the U13 Futsal National Tournament last year and led by their star player, the current U15 Indian Futsal Team Captain. Darshan and Esteban contributed early with a goal each in the first half of the match. Telangana refused to be beaten and managed to score two goals of their own. With the score tied, the game was finalized by a clutch goal from a penalty kick that was put away by Esteban right before the end of the match.
After a hard fought battle to get into the finals, the squad prepared for the last game against Tamil Nadu. With the whole crowd against their Pondicherry team, they went blow for blow in an absolutely crazy finals match. Both teams played well with Tamil Nadu up (6-5) in the last minutes of the game. The pressure was on and right before the final whistle was blown, Kishore fired a beautiful shot in the top right corner to send it to a penalty shootout. The tension was felt in the whole building as players lined up to take their shots. In the end, Tamil Nadu came out of penalties as the victor but the valiant efforts that the Pondicherry team expressed were not unnoticed.
They awarded Runner-Up of the Futsal National Tournament and Esteban was given the honor of Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Along with this, 5 players (Arya, Darshan, Esteban, Kishore and Nish) were selected for the Indian team camp where they will work to earn a spot on the Indian National Futsal team. The Futsal World Cup will be held in Paraguay and they will host the best players from across the globe.
Statement from General Secretary:
“I’m incredibly proud of how our players represented Pondicherry and everything they were able to accomplish. These boys have been training hard every morning for weeks to get ready for this tournament and it showed. They gave it their all while representing their territory with pride and that’s exactly what you look for from your players. I couldn’t ask for a better group of young men and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them. The opportunity to be a part of the Indian Futsal team and compete in the Futsal World Cup in Paraguay is an extreme honor. I’m glad I can witness this huge step in my players’ careers and support them on this journey.”
Group A matches:
Pondicherry 7-2 Andhra Pradesh
Pondicherry 2-0 Tamil Nadu
Pondicherry 5-1 Haryana
Pondicherry 6-2 Gujarat
Pondicherry 3-2 Telangana
Pondicherry 6-6 Tamil Nadu
Penalty Shootout (Pondicherry 0-2 Tamil Nadu)
List of selected players for the Indian team: