After a four-month break, Phoenix is back to court. Phoenix is not in full force, but the five boys who came to Khmelnytskyi from different parts of the country to start training and playing again, threw a true futsal feast both for themselves and the fans yesterday.
By August - when the displaced players get back - the brave five will have played most of the group stage of the First Mini-Football Military Championship of Khmelnytskyi. It is symbolic that Phoenix came to the site in Khmelnytskyi, where it had its last tournament before the start of the war. Being part of an adult amateur championship with five players on board is quite a bit of an adventure. The desire to play was bigger than fear, though.
As if a reward for courage, a goalkeeper suddenly popped up on the last day of registration, sparing us a plan to play the entire tournament with five outfielders with no subs. Let's just say that Kong Hang Nguyen found a common language with the guys from the very first game, having played his first match for us above all praise. He gave the teammates handy prompts, helped out on the goal line, and was quick in figuring out the onset of offensive schemes Phoenix had to offer. A Kharkivite just like us, Kong Hang played for FC Joma in the fifth league of the Uni Cup. He lets the boys call him Vova, so Vova Lazeba is with us at least hypothetically.
The Khmelnytskyi Military Championship is the first big tournament organized by the Futsal Association of Khmelnytskyi Oblast. Fifty-four teams will compete in six leagues. Since distribution across the leagues is done by rating, Phoenix, as a newcomer, ended up in the sixth league. The rating system of the tournament is rather relative and does not fully reflect the competence of teams, since the ratings of winter and summer tournaments are considered separately. Clearly, our first opponent, FC Evelina from Yarmolyntsi, is a higher-level team compared to Phoenix. Suffice it to say that last season the green played in the first (highest) division of the Premier Futsal League – together with such teams as ‘Khmelnytskyi Delicacies’, ‘Helpix’ and ‘Dynamo-GUNP’.
Phoenix held this meeting in a very organized and well-coordinated manner, though. With more or less equal technical statistics, the violet won, first of all, due to the better realization of their moments, scoring 3 goals from 13 shots on target. It is worth noting that Kharkivites also had an advantage in speed, especially evident in the first half. The guys also looked very disciplined when defending their goal. Of the 17 shots on target of our goal, only three were from outside the penalty area. The rest were midrange shots.
With a high load, the team looked very good physically. Being understaffed Phoenix, accustomed to keeping a high pace on the site through the rapid change of four-player squads, is deprived of such an opportunity. Of the 50 minutes of regulation time three players at once - Dolhulia, Khodatskyi, and Boldyzhev - spent more than forty minutes on the pitch. Which is an unthinkable result for the team. Also, the fact that the boys managed to endure such a load is the merit of almost daily two-day training sessions.
The efficiency of the players under such a load is notably high. For example, 71.5% of successful one-on-one defensive attacks were won by Konkov. High accuracy of passes (above 80% in all five outfielders, close to 95% in Konkov, and 100% in Dolhulia).
The team also looked inventive in implementing its set pieces, with some inaccuracies at the final stage, though.
The team's debut at a new adult tournament turned out to be quite successful. To reach the quarter-finals Phoenix needs to hit the top four at the finish in the group stage. The team seems to have all the chances for that.
Phoenix will play its next game with FC Adrenaline. It will take place in a week, the date and time to be determined later.