Neymar Juniors Five World Finals: India’s Kalina Rangers shines

Hungary’s Zsrkretak is crowned the mixed-team champion.

The Kalina Rangers club (in picture) managed one win — against Zsirkretak — in its campaign. Photo: Special Arrangement

Kalina Rangers Sports Club, India’s champion club in five-a-side football this season, returned from Brazil on a winning note after having taken part in the Red Bull Neymar Juniors Five World Finals.

Forty nations competed in the tourney. The national winner travelled to South America for the main event to meet Neymar Junior. The Mumbai club beat Zsirkretak — the national winner from Hungary — 2-1 in the concluding group game featuring mixed teams played at the Instituto Projecto Neymar (Praria Grande), the place where Neymar grew up.

Rangers had earlier held Luxembourg club UKS Brodno to a 1-1 draw, and lost to Wakanda (Angola) and Jaritoti (Spain) by five goals each. The teams from Hungary and Spain qualified from Group C, and progressed all the way to the final. Zsrkretak won 2-0 to be crowned the mixed team five-a-side champion.

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Anthony Machado, Tyson Pereira, Henderson Dias, Rayyan Shaikh, Craig D’Souza, Melvin Barboza and Charnel d’Almeida represented India in the World Finals. Kalina Rangers had earlier won the National final in Kolkata, beating Aizawl team Underdogs FCr, building on a successful Mumbai season in rink football.

Two amateur mixed teams and two women squads face off in the final and receive the trophy from the Brazilian forward. Spartak Myjava Zeny club from Slovakia emerged the women’s champion.

‘Great learning experience’

Anthony Machado said from Praria Grande: “It is a special feeling to be in Brazil and represent India. It enabled us to live out the dream of one day playing the beautiful game here. We played against some world-class teams at the World Finals. Matches are 10-minute games, the ball doesn’t go out and you need to play continuously. You need a lot energy along with a strong game plan.”

The Kalina Rangers player added: “We are disappointed that we could not go past the group stages, however proud of a win against the eventual champions Hungary in the last game. It was a great learning experience and will only help to improve our game in future. Our dream of meeting Neymar Jr also came true.”

This was the fourth edition of the Red Bull Neymar Junior Five World Finals, organised to give a boost to football’s five-a-side version.

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