17 Oct Tough Test for England in Montenegro
The England futsal team kick-off their season with a challenging away trip to Montenegro next week. The Lions will be playing two back-to-back friendly matches against the Montenegrins on Friday and Saturday, and will be eager to start their season on a positive note with two good performances.
Montenegro are ranked 61st in the world, 9 places above England, and so the Lions will be heading into these matches as underdogs. But Pete Sturgess’ men will be hoping that they can continue the positive momentum that they generated in their last outings, when they won a home Four Nations tournament against higher ranked nations in June, and cause an upset in Montenegro.
The last occasion that these two nations faced each other was in Hereford in 2011, and the honours were shared with Montenegro winning the first game 4-2 but England bounced back to claim the second match 2-1. England have made significant progress since 2011 and will be a much tougher proposition for the Montegrins next week, but similarly Montenegro have chalked up some impressive recent performances on the international stage. It all suggests that next week’s matches should be two riveting games.
England lead into a very busy period over the next few months as the squad prepares for the UEFA Futsal Euro qualifiers in January. The England team take on Latvia on the 7th and 8th November in two home matches at St Georges Park, and then head to Andorra for a double-header on the 14th and 15th December. To add a further twist to these games, Latvia and Andorra ironically were recently drawn in the same Euros Qualifying group as England. Nothing like having a dress rehearsal prior to the big performance in January!
The England team will therefore be extremely keen to start their campaign with two positive performances and the results to match. Pete Stugess’ squad includes two debutants in Richard Ward and Toluwa Sotonye who will be eager to impress and cement their places in the squad. Dave Jennings unfortunately has withdrawn from the squad after failing to recover from a recurring injury in time to make the trip.
The other buy phentermine online overnight shipping notable change to the squad was Pete Sturgess’ recent decision to award the England captaincy to Ben Mortlock. The Sheffield player has been an integral member of the England set-up since 2008 and recently achieved his 50th international cap. He replaces the much respected and much liked Luke Ballinger, who has captained the England team admirably for the past 6 years, leading from the front in becoming England’s most capped futsal player and highest ever goalscorer. Ballinger has played a pivotal role in helping to transform the fortunes of the international team in recent years and importantly for England, Ballinger will continue to use his wealth of futsal experience in continuing to represent his country. Mortlock and Sturgess will undoubtedly benefit from Ballinger’s leadership qualities and support during the tough qualifying campaign that lies ahead. Simon Walker, the head of futsal at The FA expressed his admiration for Ballinger:
“Luke became England captain at a remarkably young age but he really grasped the opportunity and right from the start he has led from the front. He shows passion, commitment and quality both on and off the court; he has been and continues to be a figurehead for young players to admire and strive to emulate. People will talk about Luke having the most caps and the most goals for England, but his leadership qualities over the years have been fundamental in helping the England squad to develop. Luke will continue to be a vital member of the England squad, and knowing Luke he will offer tremendous support and encouragement to the new captain Ben Mortlock.”
Tickets for England’s next home games against Latvia at St Georges Park on the 7th and 8th November can still be purchased here: http://www.ticketline.co.uk/england-futsal-international
The full England squad for Montenegro is:
- James Dalton Baku United Futsal Club
- Ben Mortlock Sheffield Futsal Club
- Agon Rexha Baku United Futsal Club
- Doug Reed Baku United Futsal Club
- James Webb International Futsal Academy
- Ian Parkes Bristol City Futsal Club
- Toluwa Sotonye Reading Futsal Club
- Luke Ballinger Bristol City Futsal Club
- Will Rooke Loughborough Students Futsal
- Richard Ward Sheffield Futsal Club
- George Nash Loughborough Students Futsal
- Stuart Cook Manchester Futsal Club
- Jordan Parker Manchester Futsal Club
- Guillermo Wallace Real Betis FS Nazareno