This summer for the first time a futsal team from the seaside town Klaipėda (Lithuania) visited the island of Kefalonia. The venue was set for two friendly matches to take place on the 8th and 9th of June 2014 in the athletic complex “Antonis Tritciz” in the capital Argostoli.
The rival of the Lithuanian team “Nautica” was a well known futsal club «ΔΟΥΚΑΣ» (“Doukas”, Athens).
In the absence of its own goalkeeper, who by virtue of force majeure was forced to cancel the trip the very last minute, the Lithuanian guest team arrived with a minimum composition of 5 players. Luckily, the team was offered a replacement goalkeeper - Nick from the local football school. Needless to say he became instrumental in the team’s game, giving it an opportunity to substitute and rest. That was enough for the Lithuanian side to withstand the rival pressure for both games.
The Greek team «ΔΟΥΚΑΣ», on the other hand, arrived on the island in full composition with a squad of more than 10 players, a goalkeeper, as well as their own coaching staff. They turned up on the island one day prior for a training session. The team included 3 youth players from the backup team, while the rest were from the first team. This year «ΔΟΥΚΑΣ» has reached the final of the Geek futsal premier league and lost, the defeat left the team at the second place (vice-champions) of the Greek futsal premiere league.
Match-days were well organized and gained great media exposure, both football authorities and local press were present. Matches gave a great pleasure to both the spectators and the participants. The games were energetic, with lots of back & fourth action and above average rate of goals scored. Football esthetes were to enjoy pure football (futsal) action with little fouls, lots of dribbles, shots on goal, vast teamplay combinations, and a firm level of play.
The first match ended with a 7:2 win for the Greek team. Yet, the result was hardly representative of the game itself. The result remained unchanged (2:0 for “Doukas”) until about the 8th minute of the second half, where «ΔΟΥΚΑΣ» managed to masterfully use the fatigue of the rival team and scored 3 quick goals in a 5 minute episode. The Lithuanian side had to take a tactical 1 minute time-out, where they reinvigorated their tactical play. As soon as the game resumed “Nautica” managed to catch «ΔΟΥΚΑΣ» of guard with a lightning combination, and rebounded with one goal. Despite visible signs of fatigue, Lithuanian side showed no signs of retreat and kept the pressure on «ΔΟΥΚΑΣ».
Another surprise came about when “Nautica” showed their tactical versatility and completely changed their formation from 2-2 to 2-3 utilizing the “flying” goalkeeper as a fifth player of the team. The sudden change of tactic caught the Greek team off-guard, yet again, “Nautica” quickly tip-toed the ball in to the back of the net making the result 5:2 in favor of «ΔΟΥΚΑΣ». At this point it seemed that Lithuanian team has settled in to a groove and got the Greeks on the defensive, as the Greek team began arguing amongst themselves. However, despite “Nautica’s” onslaught by using the “flying” goalkeeper, «ΔΟΥΚΑΣ» used experience and mobility of their defenses, and intercepted two passes at the very end of the match to score two more goals, making the final result 7:2 in their favor.
After the game sides exchanged friendly handshakes and words of respect, but the rivalry was on. The Greek team, it seemed, were tranquil and satisfied with the result. In the Lithuanian corner things were different, with a lot of hot discussion and some debate. It seemed that a bigger, stronger and more experienced «ΔΟΥΚΑΣ» had exhausted “Nautica”. As our Russian-speaking correspondent reports, the captain Igor G. set the record straight by saying that: “We are satisfied with the game, we had a lot of chances, but more importantly, we saw that we can compete against them, it’s just a matter of adjustment.” Igor went on to clarify: “Today we got into a dog-fight and used a lot of our stamina for frequent counter attacks... tomorrow – no more dog-fighting we are to concentrate on a more disciplined defense.”
The second match was different; the team from Lithuania surprised the eminent Greek masters and made them nervous when they couldn’t score for the entire first half. It seemed that «ΔΟΥΚΑΣ» had most of the possession of the ball but all of their attacks were choked by the more calculated and aggressive defense. The Greek team grew increasingly frustrated and by about 10th minute had already 4 fouls on the record (5 per half allowed). After several team tries one of the «ΔΟΥΚΑΣ» players took two of the Lithuanian defenders by surprise by beating them individually and scoring a fantastic solo goal! The individual magic triggered no signs of chaos in the Lithuanian side and keeping the disciplined game on almost immediately paid off. A quick combination by “Nautica” almost ended in a goal which was denied by a slight deflection of a defenders foot. Soon afterwards, at the end of the first half, the Greek team, to the dismay of their coach, exceeded the foul limit and the referee awarded “Nautica” with a 10 meter penalty. The penalty was denied by the «ΔΟΥΚΑΣ» goalkeeper and the first half ended with 1:0 to „Doukas“.
During the first 10 minutes of the second half Greek team applied more pressure and managed to score two more goals, one came from a mistake by the goalie and the other via a lightning combination with the team’s captain scoring a marvelous goal. After a 1 minute tactical time-out Lithuanians resorted to the same tactic as was the story in the first game. This time the Lithuanian side began using the “flying” goalkeeper earlier depriving “Doukas” of the ball possession almost completely. This immediately brought fruit, as one of the “template” combinations came through and ended in a goal for “Nautica”, making the result 3:1. Lithuanians kept the pressure on by continuing their onslaught. With 7 minutes left on the clock “Doukas” took down one of the Lithuanian players in the foul zone resulting in a 6 meter penalty. It was scored by “Nautica” (3:2). This result stayed till the end of the game. Lithuanian side had a chance to tie the game, but unfortunately it was denied by the goalkeeper.
The organizers of the trip (kefalonia-parga.com) thank the coordinator on the Greek part – George Messaris, a journalist actively engaged in social activities in Kefalonia. Thanks to his efforts, everything went perfectly smoothly and in a professional manner. On my own behalf and on behalf of the Lithuanian players, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to Ευάγγελος Μαζαράκης – the President of the Association of Football of Kefalonia and Ithaca, in the consent and cooperation of whom the above matches took place. A great dinner given in the honor of our players in the "Kalafatis" restaurant, where all the participants and organizers of the tournament were cordially invited by Mr. Μαζαράκης, contributed a lot to the excellent performance of the Lithuanian players.