The squad, which features nine players from the 2010 OFC Championship team, will be reduced to 12 after a series of training camps in the lead-up to the tournament.
Key Futsal Whites Elias Billeh, Marvin Eakins, Miroslav Major and Lucas Da Silva all feature, while Greg O’Connor and former captain Nathan Robertson both return after three-year absences. They are joined by East City newcomers Jakub Sinkora and Callan Manickum and Capital City Futsal goalkeeper David Plowright, who won the Golden Gloves in the 2010/11 National Futsal League.
Auckland City striker Daniel Koprivcic, who plays futsal at East City in Auckland, makes the squad for the first time.
Tariq Assad, Dylan Manickum, Brayden Lissington and Said Soleimnapour also return from the 2010 team.
The Futsal Whites are waiting on news on the fitness of leading goalscorer Mickey Malivuk, who has a long-term knee injury. Malivuk’s ten goals in Suva in 2010, including a hat-trick against runaway champions Solomon Islands, make him a leading figure in the Futsal Whites World Cup qualification hopes.
Coach Matt Chandler is pleased with the depth of the squad and believes the experience gained during the 2010 OFC Championship and the recently-completed New Zealand Football Futsal National League will contribute significantly to this year’s World Cup qualifying campaign.
“We learnt a lot from Fiji last year and have gone for players who have demonstrated they can compete at that level,” he says. “But we’ve also had a good look at everyone over the summer in the national league and brought in some exciting new players – ones we think can give us that x-factor required in international futsal.”
Chandler recognises that World Cup qualification will be a tough assignment for the Futsal Whites side after finishing third behind Solomon Islands and Fiji in 2010, but says the presence of a final is a welcome addition to the qualification series.
“The new format gives us every chance – we’re confident that if we can get to the final, the one-off winner-takes-all format will suit us. We’re really looking forward to it”, he says.
The Futsal Whites head to a series of regional training sessions followed by at least one week-long high performance training camp in Auckland in April.
The final squad, along with details of the tournament draw, will be announced in April.