Pirates Fives conquer the world

 

 

There’s a certain aura hanging over South African sport right now. It’s called “victory”. Another champion, by the name of Orlando Pirates Fives, has arrived. To add to their exploits in the conventional 11-a-side game, the Buccaneers captured the F5 five-a-side World Cup held in Cape Town last week.

The team had to play a regional tournament in Johannesburg and a national tournament in Durban before they earned their qualification to the World Cup tournament.

Once they qualified and arrived in Cape Town, their passionate attitude and skill on the field would be the difference between them and the rest. Kyle Koert said they had worked their fitness and conditioned themselves to be ready to deal with anything, because it was not the level of opposition they played every weekend.

“If you don’t believe that you can win it, then what’s the point of going in the first place,” he said. “Our mindset was just to be focused. It’s a big tournament, we were coming up against opposition we know nothing about.”

Pirates laid down a marker of their intentions to become the first African team to win this tournament. The Orlando side romped through the group stage, beating Botswana, Senegal and Oman.

They played Botswana again in the round of 16 and eased past them, winning the match 7-3.

In the quarterfinals, the Pirates Fives came up against the side representing the United States, who won this competition in 2017. It was a serious test for the South African side. But, after they watched their opponent’s round of 16 match against Canada, the South Africans identified a way to stop them.

“We decided that we were going to press them high, because the keeper likes to come out and play, so we knew that we had to press the keeper as soon as possible so he doesn’t allow them to play. It worked for us, we pressed, got two early goals against them and then we just had to keep going,” Koert said.

The South African side won the game 5-3 and then went on to beat France 4-2 in the semifinals.

Josè Garcia, another Pirates Fives player, admitted to feeling somewhat overwhelmed when playing against a team like France, because of the name. Ultimately, the team let their football do the talking and overcame Les Bleus.

The South African side met another former champion in the final. Koert said the Colombian side usually played a very physical game, but it was also psychological warfare. The Colombians tried to intimidate the opponent but the South Africans thrashed them 6-2.

“It was a tough first half, but once we got the second goal, the third and fourth, we were in the driving seat and they were frustrated. This worked in our favour because they were not focused on playing the game and we just continued playing our game,” Koert said.

The team now returns to Johannesburg where they will get some rest before they decide their next move. This World Cup win caps off a sparkling year for five-a-side football in South Africa. The same side reached the semifinals of the A&F Futsal World Cup in Argentina earlier this year and Football Flava from Johannesburg will be jetting off to Russia to compete in the World Mini-football Federation Intercontinental Cup in 2020.

Eyaaz Matwadia
Eyaaz Matwadia
Eyaaz Matwadia is a member of the Mail & Guardian's online team.
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