Pune: Joga Bonito Mumbai have been crowned the National Champions of the India National Finals of Neymar Jr’s Five 2018 event when they defeated Kalinga Rangers FC from Pune to book a berth to the World Championship.
The Mumbai team will now represent India in the World Championship this July and meet Neymar Jr at his own backyard. The finale will witness national champions from 62 countries across six continents battle it out in Brazil.
Neymar Jr.’s Five is a globally established five-on-five football tournament that allows amateur footballers to showcase their talent in front of renowned players. Sakal Times spoke to Anthony Machado, captain of Team Joga Bonito, about his experience and preparations. Here are the excerpts:
How has your experience been during the tournament?
The experience with Joga Bonito was very good during the full tournament. It’s fun watching us play because every individual has his own style of play. The Mumbai city qualifiers at Kick Football Turf, Priyadarshini Park, Malabar Hill in January witnessed 80 teams giving their best. We beat Mighty Joe Young in the final match by 3-0 to grab a place and represent Mumbai in the national finals in Hyderabad.
With over 2600 teams, bringing their best to the field, at the end there could only be one champion that would take home the title of Neymar Jr’s Five and Joga Bonito Mumbai emerged victorious in Neymar Jr’s Five 2018.
Johnson Dsilva, Mervin Stephen, Preetam Mahadik, Daniel Fernandes, Scott Dsouza, Pratik Kadam and I will now represent India in the World Finals 2018 at Instituto Projeto Neymar, Brazil, on July 21 and would love to meet the Paris Saint Germain superstar in his own backyard. We would like to thank Red Bull and Neymar Jr’s Five for giving us this opportunity,
How different is the 5-on-5. What is the aspect of this format excites you?
Five-on-Five is very different from field football. As you get very less time to recover or no time to recover, within seconds the ball from one end reaches the other end of the ground. Red Bull has its own rules which makes it very exciting and challenging.
The team which scores a goal first has an advantage because one player from the opponent team has to walk out. This excites me very much. You have to be very fast and have great stamina to achieve your goal in this format of play. The twist in this thrilling affair is that for each goal scored by a team, a member of the opposition will have to leave the field.
How are your preparations going on for the World Championship?
We are practicing on weekends as some of our players go to college and some work as well. And, we also participate in tournaments on Saturdays and Sundays which helps us going.
Is there any pressure conisdering you are the national champions. How are you coping with it?
Yes there will be pressure on us as we will be representing our nation and we cannot let our nation down we will try our best, give our 100 percent. There is lot of pressure from our family, friends, and many who know us on social media and they are hoping something from us for that we have increased our practice time and days too.
You will get to meet Neymar Jr in his own backyard. Your reactions and plans for the same?
Meeting Neymar in his own background will be a dream come true. What my reaction will be at that time, even I cannot explain, because even I don’t know how I’m going to react when Neymar Jr will be in front of me.
What were your initial reactions when you came to know that you will be making it to Brazil?
I had mixed feelings because in Hyderabad, the finals played was between Kalinga Rangers Pune and Joga Bonito Mumbai both are one unit. On one hand I was happy and on the other was sad to watch my friends cry on the pitch. But I’m happy now because it’s like a dream come true.
Do you think there should be more such events, so that the five-on-five format is promoted?
Yes definitely there should be many more events like these in India and specially in Mumbai because there are many hidden talents at the grassroot level and hope more brands like Red Bull invest and support this space. I have seen a lot of young players coming through these five-a-side tournaments who can play for clubs and do well.