AUCKLAND – New Zealand Football have named a fifteen man training squad to prepare for the OFC Futsal Championships in Suva, Fiji, in May. The tournament also doubles as the qualifying tournament for the 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Thailand.
The squad, which features nine players from the 2010 OFC Championship team, will be reduced to twelve after a series of training camps in the lead-up to the tournament.
Key Futsal Whites Elias Billeh, Marvin Eakins, Miroslav Major and Lucas Da Silva all feature in the squad, while Greg O’Connor and former captain Nathan Robertson both return after three year absences. They are joined by East City newcomers Jakub Sinkora and Callan Manickum and Capital City Futsal goalkeeper David Plowright, who won the Golden Gloves in the 2010/11 National Futsal League.
Auckland City striker Daniel Koprivcic, who plays futsal at East City in Auckland, makes the squad for the first time.
Tariq Assad, Dylan Manickum, Brayden Lissington and Said Soleimnapour also return from the 2010 team.
The Futsal Whites are waiting on news on the fitness of leading goalscorer Mickey Malivuk, who has a long term knee injury. Malivuk’s ten goals in Suva in 2010, including a hat-trick against runaway champions Solomon Islands, make him a leading figure in the Futsal Whites World Cup qualification hopes.
Coach Matt Chandler is pleased with the depth of the squad and believes the experience gained during the 2010 OFC Championships and the recently completed New Zealand Football Futsal National League will contribute significantly to this year’s World Cup qualifying campaign.
“We learnt a lot from Fiji last year and have gone for players who have demonstrated they can compete at that level. But we’ve also had a good look at everyone over the summer in the National League and brought in some exciting new players as well – ones who we think can give us that x-factor that is required in international futsal.”
Chandler recognised that World Cup qualification was a tough assignment for the Futsal Whites side after finishing third behind Solomon Islands and Fiji in 2010, but said the presence of a final was a welcome addition to the qualification series.
“The new format gives us every chance – we’re confident that if we can get to the final, the one-off winner-take-all format will suit us. We’re really looking forward to it”, he said.
The Futsal Whites head to a series of regional training sessions followed by at least one week-long high performance training camp in Auckland in April.
The final squad, along with details of the tournament draw will be announced in April.
New Zealand Futsal Whites squad
Elias Billeh (GK) – East City
David Plowright (GK) Capital City Futsal
Tariq Assad Capital City Futsal
Marvin Eakins – East City
Miroslav Major – East City
Dylan Manickum – East City
Callan Manickum – East City
Lucas Da Silva Capital City Futsal
Miroslav Malivuk Capital City Futsal
Nathan Robertson – East City
Brayden Lissington Hawke’s Bay Futsal
Daniel Koprivcic – East City
Said Soleimanpour Capital City Futsal
Greg O’Connor Red Sox Manawatu
Jakub Sinkora – East City