Group C Preview:
The FA National Futsal Super League kicks off this weekend and EnglandFutsal.com continue our series focussing on each of the teams in the four groups. Today we take a look at Group C which involves Oxford City Lions, the winners of the Midlands Division, Middlesbrough Futsal Club, the third placed team in the North, and the legendary Helvecia who were third in the Southern Division.
Looking at the form guide this season, it would be hard to bet against Oxford City Lions from topping Group C and progressing to the Grand Finals at St Georges Park at the end of May. The Lions have only lost one game in the Midlands Division all season, and with Lucas Toti and Pete Vallance on fine form it would seem that they have enough firepower to blow their two rivals away. However, when speaking to Mark Hinnells from the Lions about their Super League preparations, perhaps not everything is as rosy as it would seem on the surface:
“I would have to say our chances of reaching the Grand Finals are good, but we have recently lost our home stadium for at least a few months, which is at such a critical time of the season and it’s been hard for us to train.”
In essence this means that Oxford City Lions will be playing their home matches at an alien venue that the players are not used to, and this could be a significant factor as Hinnells explained:
“When you play at home, you know the layout of the pitch and lots of little clues give you precise feedback about where you are on the pitch, how much space you have and where the goal is. Playing away from home in a stadium you haven’t played before, you don’t have those clues and in a split second that makes all the difference.”
Whilst the Lions maybe the favourites in this group regardless of their home venue troubles, it would be exceedingly naive to rule out a club with the stature of Helvecia. The London club have an unparalleled heritage in English Futsal, winning five consecutive Championships from 2008 to 2012 and narrowly losing to Baku Utd last year in the Grand Finals after a thrilling penalty shoot-out.
Helvecia are a club in transition; after being untouchable for such a long period in English Futsal, the club have undergone a spell of introducing new talent to the squad which takes time. And this transition has coincided with the rise of their great rivals Baku Utd who seized their opportunity last season to claim the highest prize in the land. But Helvecia are club that thrive under pressure and should never be ruled out in crucial games. The message coming from Virgilio Guimares in the Helvecia camp is loud and clear:
“We believe that we have a pretty good chance and we expect to finish in the top 4. Helvecia are back and we also want the crown back, we want to become champions of England again!”
It is difficult to gauge quite the impact that Middlebrough will have on Group C; whilst they may not be favourites to qualify from this group, on their day they can certainly beat either of their two rivals. Middlesbrough had an electric start to the season, winning their first five games and looking a serious threat in the Northern Division. However, their season was somewhat derailed after a defeat to Manchester in January from which they have struggled to recover their early season form. This has not been helped by losing key-man Ben Everson mid-way through the year who signed a professional football contract in Sweden.
But with Mikey Roberts scoring 28 goals in 9 games this season, they have a player that can threaten any team and Lukasz Samek summed up the feelings from within the club:
“We believe in ourselves and we work very hard in each training session. I am very confident in my team and can’t wait for the next games. We know our strengths and if we perform well we will get to the Grand Finals.”
One thing is for certain, Middlesbrough are not here to make up the numbers and one way or another will have a strong say as to how this group finishes.
To find out more about this weekend’s Super League matches visit here
To purchase tickets for this season’s FA National Futsal League Grand Finals at St Georges Park on the 31st May visit here