WHAT an ideal way to start serious preparations for Australia’s men’s futsal team that will head to Israel this July to compete in the Maccabiah Games.
Five members of that squad – Robbie Ezekiel, Jonathan Barzel, Gilad Swartz, young goalkeeper Noah Felich, and 2019 Futsalroos squad member and Mascot Vipers player Ethan De Melo, who is only 19 – represented Hakoah Futsal Club at last weekend’s Australian Futsal Club Championship in Melbourne.
The tournament was postponed several months due to COVID, but featured 10 top-tiered futsal clubs from across Australia, including reigning NSW Futsal Premier League champions, Hakoah, who fielded a 12-strong squad.
Hakoah were undefeated in their pool games, and cruised to the semis. De Melo scored the winning goal in the dying seconds of their opening round 3-2 victory over the Gold Coast Force. Robbie Ezekiel booted one past the keeper in a 2-1 win versus Moreland FC, De Melo scored again in a gritty 1-1 draw against the Canberra Boomerangs, and Swartz and Barzel both scored goals in a 4-2 triumph over South Brisbane.
Fatigue was likely a factor for Hakoah in their tough 1-2 semifinal loss to the eventual champions, Fitzroy Tigers – in which Barzel scored in the first half. Ezekiel told The AJN, “Playing five matches in two days and one night was pretty demanding on our bodies, especially on the final day, so improving our fitness is something we’ll need to work on.
“Our goal was to win the tournament, but even though we fell short, we dominated in most games, and I felt our speed of play, and the way we worked together, especially in defence, were real positives.
“It was also good for the five of us who are in Australia’s Maccabiah futsal squad, to play together in a major tournament, and it’s exciting that our training sessions for Maccabiah are about to start.”