Written By Onyeka Daniel
Five-A side football unlike the popularly known game of football is usually played on a small pitch, with each team fielding four players and a goalkeeper. Matches are played indoors, or outdoors on pitches that may be enclosed within a barrier or “cage” to prevent the ball from leaving the playing area and keep the game constantly flowing. In this game, there are no offside rules.
Just like in Basketball, a yellow card will warrant that a player leaves the field for a specific period of time while a red card means the player leaves the pitch permanently. The penalty area is different from those in official football games: it is semi-circular in shape, only the goalkeeper is allowed to touch the ball within it, and he or she may or may not be allowed out.
Goalkeepers are only allowed to give the ball out to another player by throwing it. The goalkeeper may only kick the ball if it is in the course of making a save. It is not all that different from the street football.
Five-a-side is commonly played informally, so the rules are therefore flexible and are sometimes decided immediately before play begins; but recently, it is usually organized as there have been tournaments hosted and in some countries, they have leagues exclusively for Five-A-side football. There are certain qualities a player must possess in order to excel in this type of game.
° Close Control or First touch
° Good passing abilities
° Accuracy in Shooting
° Skills or Dribbling
First touch is very important because as the pitch is smaller, the spaces become smaller hence a player needs to be able to control the ball once to avoid losing possession to the opponent. The best way to beat the opponent in any game of football is to keep the ball away from them and this is same for the Five-A-side football game and what better way to keep the ball than to be able to pass it around. Also, the ability to shoot at the goal cannot be overemphasized as the smaller pitch allow players to be able to shoot from anywhere on the pitch and score.
Awareness is the ability of a player to anticipate the position and movement of his teammates and opponents alike and be able to make the right decisions. This is the rarest of the abilities as not everyone can attempt it because if not properly executed, it could mean losing possession and giving the opponents the chance to score.
Skills when executed can take out one or two opponents, creating a numerical advantage and a better chance of scoring and it usually gets the fans excited and makes the game more enjoyable.
In my dream 5-a-side team, though I would rather not pick an actual goalkeeper, preferring to pick a player instead, creating a numerical advantage as the player can play both as a goalkeeper and also come forward when the need arises and even on rare occasions, go for goal himself but in this case, I will pick a goalkeeper who has the ability to play as a sweeper.
• Ederson (Manchester City and Brazil)
• Stefan De Vrij (Inter Milan and Netherlands)
• Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea and Croatia)
• Neymar (PSG and Brazil)
• Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan and Sweden)
Goalkeeper: The choice of Ederson is not solely for his goalkeeping capabilities as there are better goalkeepers out there but for his passing range, both with his hands and feet. Often times, he’s the starting point for most attacks for the Citizens especially against high pressing and low block system adopted by opponents, while also not forgetting his calmness on the ball and organizing his defense.
Defense: If the choice of a goalkeeper was not hard enough, the choice of a defender was even harder as there are many factors to be considered. In the end, the top choice is Stefan De Vrij, who plays for Inter Milan in Italy. Despite not being the fastest of players, De Vrij combines intelligence and a good passing ability to his game. His ability to read the game and anticipate his opponents will be a big plus in a typical 5-Aside game and he also pops up with the occasional goals once in a while from set-plays.
Midfield: The choice of Mateo Kovacic as midfielder may seem strange but the multifaceted aspect to his game will be a big plus in a typical 5-A-side game. Good in beating opponents in tight spaces, his ball carrying abilities and good passing will be highly appreciated. His work rate in the defensive and offensive phase of the game can also be a real asset.
Attack: In attack, I had to go for two as against picking two midfielders and one attacker. Neymar will play more as a midfielder or as the roving player. With his skills and dribbling abilities, he should be a handful for any opposition. His close control and ability to get out of tight spaces with dribbling will also be appreciated even if he can’t be counted on to do much defending but will be a useful asset when there is a turn over of possession, with his ability to beat his marker in nine out of ten situations, he should score plenty of goals too.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the other striker will is more due to his aerial ability and great one time control. He possesses great strength, able to hold off one or two players while laying off the ball for his teammates. His intelligence will also count for something and he’s got a great shot on both feet.
For the substitutes, Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City and Belgium) Marcelo (Real Madrid and Brazil) and Roberto Firminho (Liverpool and Brazil) should compliment this squad. With this team, the crowd should be ready to be thrilled with beautiful football skills and goals in abundance.
Tell us your dream 5-a-side team in the comments below.
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