Category Archives: Futsal

FIFA Futsal International City Cup Taipei

By Michael Christie
Aug 7-9th, 2010

Before I begin the report proper, let me just say why I think we were invited to the tournament. I believe we were brought in to play the role of whipping boys. We were paraded as the International Union of Brothers, but with only a couple of weeks notice we could hardly be expected to play as a well-oiled Futsal team, especially against high-level specialists in the game. The fact that we actually played some good Futsal speaks volumes for everybody involved.

After finding the venue late, borrowing some socks and some frantic negotiations concerning shirts and team colours, the International Union of Brothers were ready to take on Taipei City in the tournament curtain-raiser. Led out by Dede Costa to a fanfare of delirious excitement from the Taiwanese girls in the stands who’d come to see the handsome foreigners, the IUB meant business. The starting five comprised Dale in goal, Ricardo and Yunusa in defence, and Ebou and Dede up front. On the bench, Dawda, Karim, Onur, Ross, Christian and Christie proved the IUB had strength in depth. That said, Taipei City had at least ten substitutes to IUB’s five. This was obviously not going to be an easy game.

Straight after the whistle, the experienced Futsallers looked to keep the ball and work some openings. Taipei City must have had some of the best Taiwanese Futsal talent in their ranks, so they were able to control the first few minutes. The IUB defended doggedly, though, so City was getting a trifle frustrated. (Remember, in this report the Taiwanese team are City.) City managed to get a lucky goal on about five minutes, which calmed their nerves, but there was to be no capitulation from the IUB. Although clearly dominant, City had to defend well against enterprising forward play at times from Onur, Dede, Dawda, Ebou, Christian, Yunusa, Karim and Ross. Ricardo and Christie were more defensive and did some good support work. The Taiwanese played some excellent futsal but only managed two more goals before half-time. These were good, well-deserved goals, it has to be admitted. Ironically, just before the half-time whistle the defensive Christie was put through on goal after an excellent passing move (from… sorry, I’ve forgotten!) and he put a toe to nudge the ball slowly past the City keeper. 3-1 down at half-time, the IUB had put up a really good fight and proved themselves not just an ordinarily talented group of expat players.

The second half was again an uphill struggle for the IUB. Dale sustained an injured finger making a great save, and later he sprained his ankle rushing out quickly to deny City an otherwise certain goal. The IUB had some good shots on target again, but facing the fresher legs of City’s numerous substitutes, began to tire. Dede shot into the top corner to score a brilliant goal halfway through the second half to make the score 6-2. Unfortunately, fatigue was a factor in the last ten minutes, so City were able to rattle in some more goals. The final score was something like 10-2 to the Taiwanese.

The next game of the day saw the flamboyantly outfitted professional team from Malaysia, Figos Juniors, take on Yung An, from mainland China. This was a dreadfully one-sided encounter which saw the Malaysians demolish an obviously shell-shocked Yung An. The question was: were the Malaysians really good, or was Yung An City really poor?

At lunch-time, just before their game with the Thai team, the popular IUB players posed for photographs with some of the local Taiwanese girls who’d come to watch and give them their support. This was just as well, because the Thai team brought a large contingent of screaming fans themselves! Though less mobile and less skilled than Taipei City, the Thais nevertheless obviously had a good amount of futsal experience. Slow to warm up, the IUB fell behind quite early, and then conceded another. After finding their feet, as it were, the IUB started to threaten. Great goals from Dede, Dawda, Ebu and Karim, I think, were only the natural reward for good passing play. The game was delicately poised at 4-4 and in truth IUB were showing they were the better footballers, but the Thais, buoyed by their supporters, managed to score seven goals altogether. Final score 7-4. This was a game that if we had to play with a little bit more Futsal experience I’ve no doubt we would win.

Late in the game, Dede suffered a nasty gash to the eye after he was sent crashing to the ground by a sliding tackle. This was a great injustice for our best player on the day, and meant that after a good, long time in Taiwan, Dede had to take an injury home. He was unable to play any further part in the tournament and was greatly missed. (Personally, I feel Dede is the best all-round player I have played with or against in my time in Taiwan. Good luck, Dede. We know you will keep playing football.)

There was one more game on Saturday, I think, and there was a game or two on Sunday morning, but what these were I don’t know! (I seem to remember Figos Juniors giving the Thais a futsal lesson, but I can’t remember when this was. Let me tell you old age catches up with everybody!) At 1pm on Sunday, the IUB reconvened for action against Yung An. Both teams were looking to taste victory. This was a slightly different squad from Saturday’s players. Without Ricardo, Onur and Dede, City now had Brian McGuinness, Tom Clarke and Gassey (apologies if I’ve spelt your name wrong) from Nicaragua. Mindful of Christie’s advanced age, Ross handed him the captaincy for the day. Christie tried to look the part but arguably lacked Dede’s gravitas.

The IUB started slowly against Yung An and again conceded first, but then sheer ability asserted itself and the IUB fairly took Yung An to the cleaners. Yunusa, Ebu, Dawda, Brian and Tom were excellent in this game, and Christie, Karim, Gassey and Ross all made valuable contributions, too. The IUB were able to play quick passing football to the wide positions, from where the ball was regularly bulleted to the the far post. This tactic had been effective the day before against the Thais, but now it was looking much slicker. There was a hat-trick for Tom and he scored the same goal each time: Yunusa or Brian to Ebu, Ebu to Dawda on the right, and Dawda to Tom at the far post on the left. There were other great goals from Ebu, Dawda, Brian and Yunusa. With just a few minutes left on the clock, the IUB were 8-4 up but then Yung An staged an admirable come-back. With only one minute to go they’d got back to 8-6, and then, with just seventeen seconds remaining, 8-7. Ross called a time-out to settle some nerves and agree some tactics to see us through the game safely, and so eventually Yung-An were denied. It had been a highly enjoyable game for everybody in the arena.

The next game was between the Thais and Taipei City. The Thais were no match for the Taiwanese in this game. For what it’s worth, the Taiwanese scored more against the Thais than against the IUB, if my memory serves me correctly. (But that’s hardly guaranteed!) The watching IUB players argued amongst themselves good-humoredly about which team was better, Taipei City or Figos Juniors. We were about to play the Juniors in our last game.

Most of the IUB players had already played a full ninety minutes of eleven-a-side earlier in the day as well as the game against Yung An, so were not fresh coming into an extremely demanding contest. Indeed, all the outfield IUB starters had played a full match. Still, this was not evident from the first fifteen minutes. Dale (an unsung hero and solid presence all weekend), Yunusa, Tom, Ebu and Brian fully matched the professionals from Malaysia. The expressions on the faces of the Malaysians betrayed uneasiness for the first five minutes, as they found themselves 1-0 down to the amateurs and being held at bay. They managed to squeeze in a goal after six or seven minutes but they still looked disbelieving that they weren’t able to score more.  The Malaysians looked seriously flustered.

With ten minutes gone, the score was 1-1 and the IUB still looked solid. The Malaysians tried everything, but it was all in vain as they were continually frustrated by last-ditch tackles and great saves from Dale. The nods of approbation from the Taiwanese coaches was gratifying as the IUB played precisely in both defence and attack. The Malaysians finally posted a goal on fifteen minutes, by which time they’d used at least three or four substitutes. Now Ross decided to rotate some of the IUB players, with the result that IUB conceded three more goals before the half-time whistle!

The second half saw some more great performances from Dale, Yunusa, Tom, Ebu, Brian, Dawda, Karim, Ross, Christie and the just arrived Gassey, but the IUB couldn’t quite get a break-through. We came close a few times, though, with Dawda and Gassey in particular. Eventually, the futsal fitness, experience and expertise of the Malaysians told as they scored four more goals. 9-1 was the final score and while you have to say the Malaysians had greater resources (including more substitutes and fresher legs) the performances of the IUB players, Dale, Yunusa, Tom, Brian, Ebu and Dawda in particular, deserved only praise. What a weekend!

The final between Taipei City and Figos RSA FC was held on the Monday. Dale, Gassey, Ross, Ebu, Yunusa and Dawda were all in attendance to watch a real top class game of Futsal. It ended 2-2 which meant the Malaysia league champions for the past two years Figos RSA FC won the tournament on goal difference.

The five star dinner on the Monday night in the Grand Formosa was attended by all the Taipei Futsal Association, the teams and their fans, dignitaries from the Taiwanese government and members of the press. The IUB boys were bombarded by kids wanting to take their picture with them, it might even take a few hard games in the BML to get everybody grounded again. Much to all our surprise we were awarded the tournament Fair Play award for our endeavors, the announcement was met by a rapturous cheer from the attending crowd, all in all a fantastic end to a memorable weekend, if you can overlook the irony of the sight of Ross collecting a fair play award!