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WOMEN: Defeat a great opportunity for players to learn

by Liz Owen

Manchester Women’s Futsal Club head coach Abdallah Mohamed was delighted with the development of his squad, regardless of the derby day defeat to Liverbirds.

The hosts lost 6-2 to their rivals, but were without several key names and had to rely on a small team made up of players whose court time this season has so far been restricted.

And although he was naturally unhappy with the result, Mohamed was full of praise for his team and feels the experience was a worthwhile one for them.

“The girls went out there, played some decent futsal and really enjoyed themselves,” he said.

“It was unfortunate to concede six – we did make a few errors at the back to let in some cheap goals and a strong side like Liverbirds will punish you in these situations – but I’m not sure the scoreline really reflects our performance.

“I think we started well and began to control the game before conceding – they did what I asked them to do in that respect. In the second half we moved things around tactically and used a few different moves to try and get back into the game, although by then Liverbirds had a decent enough cushion to take advantage of.

“We were going all out but we only had two subs and, with a full court to play on as well, it was very tiring. By the end, we couldn’t keep the same intensity that we had at the start.

“It was a difficult game to judge, but performance-wise I don’t have any complaints – they all did an amazing job.”

Mohamed also applauded the influence of Meida Pociunaite, who performed admirably as she took the armband in the absence of Leanne Skarratt and Carol Agostinho as one of the more senior members of the squad.

“Meida stepped up and did a really good job. She controlled from the back and got the players organised and talking to each other.

“She even did her own team-talk at half time, which is great to see. You need that inspiration for the whole team to step up and she provided that as the captain.”

Although the availability of a full squad may have ensured a more positive result, Mohamed was reluctant to dwell on the ‘what-ifs’ and instead highlighted the importance of the match for the progression of his whole team.

“If we’d had a few of our key players involved, they could have made a difference but, having said that, I believe all of our players are talented enough to do that.

“The girls who hadn’t had much court time beforehand went out there and took their chance, and they really impressed me throughout.

“Aggy came out and did fantastically, Kirsty started brilliantly and kept the momentum going, and Ilona did really well coming on and off the court in a variety of roles – she even stopped a few goals at the end there too which is decent.

“It’s a learning curve for my players and it’s all about going out, enjoying it and improving your game, and I think we did that.

“The players who were involved were learning as they were playing. They were analysing new information which they’d picked up and discussed it together and with me after the match. That’s exactly what I want to see and that’s why I’m so positive about the game despite the result.

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