To date it’s been a road of headache and heartbreak for Aussie entries at the AFC Futsal Club Championship. The F-League offers direct qualification into the prestigious event, with the Premiers given the chance to represent Australia each year on the global futsal stage. Last year’s winners Dural Warriors will take part in the 2015 edition of the AFC Club Championship held in Iran.
2010: NSW Thunder represented Australia as winners of the 2009 FFA Nationals at the maiden 10-team playoffs held in Iran in March 2010. They performed admirably but conceded in the closing seconds to lose 4-3 to Wuhan Dilong (China), were crushed 11-3 by Al-Sadd (Qatar), still the tournament’s second heaviest defeat, lost 6-5 to Thai Port (Thailand) after leading 3-2 at halftime and 5-5 with a minute to go, and lost 6-4 to Pro’s Café (Lebanon). Iran’s Foolad Mahan beat Al-Sadd 5-2 in the final to become the tournament’s first champions.
2011: Australia didn’t have an entry at the 2011 finals in Qatar, which became the biggest reason behind establishing a national F-League competition. Japan’s Nagoya Oceans beat Iran’s Shahid Mansouri 3-2 in a thrilling extra-time final.
2012: Maccabi Hakoah were unlucky not to advance from their qualification tournament held in steamy Vietnam in March 2012, suffering tight one-goal losses to hosts Thai Son Nam (1-0) and Chinese conquerors Guangzhou Baiyunshan (4-3). Iran side Giti Pasand Isfahan went on to defeat Uzbekistan’s Ardus Tashkent 2-1 in a close final in Kuwait.
2013: Dural Warriors also went close at their qualification tournament in Malaysia in April 2013, falling to Vietnamese rivals Thai Son Nam 6-2 and bouncing back to defeat Indonesian champion 4-2 to make the semi-finals. Dural were touched-up 8-1 by eventual victors, Thai powerhouse Chonburi Blue Wave but led Thai Son Nam 2-1 at halftime in the battle for third place (top-three advanced to the finals in Japan) before eventually going down 6-3. Chonburi beat Iran’s Giti Pasand Isfahan in a penalty shootout after being locked 1-1 at the end of a tense final.
2014: Vic Vipers found the going tough in their maiden AFC adventure in China in August 2014, falling 3-0 to Shenzhen Nanling in front of a packed Shuangliu Sports Centre in Chengdu, goals either side of halftime proving decisive for the hosts; and they had no answer to eventual champions Nagoya Oceans of Japan (the competition’s most successful club with two titles from five tournaments). The Vics showed character to be level 2-2 with Uzbekistani side Lokomotiv Tashkent before failing 7-3 despite a Miguel Barrigos hat-trick. Nagoya pipped Thai team Chonburi Blue 5-4 in a thrilling extra-time final.
2015: 2014 F-League Premiers Dural Warriors is Australia’s entry at the 2015 AFC Club Championship being held in Isfahan, Iran, from July 31 to August 7.