Australia’s epic futsal comeback

Jarrod Basger makes a tackle against Brazil.

AUSTRALIA pulled off a miraculous last-minute victory over Brazil on July 10 to qualify for the futsal finals at the Maccabiah Games and keep their hopes of a medal alive. 

The thrilling win was sealed in the dying seconds by Dylan Basger, who scored a penalty goal that took the scoreline to 3-2.

“I’d been practising penalty goals and I always go right, and this time I had to go left,” Dylan said after the clash. “My heart was racing.”

The team had been down 2-1 with seven minutes to go, but they never stopped believing. With just seven seconds to go, the referee awarded the penalty goal to Australia after a foul by the Brazilian team.

“It was amazing,” said team member Jarrod Basger. “Every time I heard the crowd cheer, it just brought a smile to my face. It helped us keep pushing. The feeling at the final whistle was unbelievable.”

Gilad Swartz, who scored the second goal, said: “It was the best feeling ever. All the boys have been working towards this game for 18 months, and to score a goal was just the best feeling ever. It’s all about the hard work.”

The first goal, scored by Robbie Ezekiel, was also something of a miracle given that he was injured a month before the games and was told that he would be out for 12 weeks.

Australia has been waiting four years for revenge after Brazil knocked the Aussies out of the games in 2013. However, Dylan acknowledged that the team still has a way to go.

“We still need to win three games,” said Dylan. “We’re not in the gold medal match yet. We’ll win those three games and then we’ll focus on it.”

To qualify for the grand final, Australia will need to beat Lithuania, Gibraltar and Cuba.

Meanwhile, the Australian junior boys’ futsal side defeated Turkey 8-1 and were due to face Brazil on July 12 in order to qualify for the preliminary finals. 

Coach Adriano De Melo, who set Maccabiah 2017 as a goal for his players four years ago, said the team’s strength is that they have known each other for so long.

“They share a bond,” De Melo said. “Everything we do, we do for each other and we have each other’s backs. It’s easy being a leader in this team because I know if I make a mistake the other boys will be there to support me just like I’ll be there for them.”

YAEL BRENDER