Saturday, Nov 17, 2018 | Last Update : 06:06 AM IST
Joga bonito, a mumbai-based 5-a side football team represented INDIA at the Neymar Jr’s Five World Final.
They outplayed Chile and Luxembourg in the group stages to eliminate the teams. But Mumbai-based 5-a side football team Joga Bonito, who was representing India, crashed out in the round of 32 at the Neymar Jr’s Five World Final in Praia Grande, Brazil on Sunday.
After taking a 1-0 lead in the 10-minute format, the side conceded a late equaliser from the Colombians. When the goal was scored, only 15 seconds were left on the clock. There is a different way in which the extra time is played in the tournament — one player from each team steps up and whoever scores first is the winner.
Unfortunately for the Indian side, it was Colombia that scored. Colombia is, in fact, a larger footballing nation, if compared to India. They even made it to the pre-quarterfinals in the FIFA World Cup that concluded on July 15.
However, for Joga Bonito, it was a startling experience to be in the Samba-land and play in front of Neymar who was watching the competitions from the sidelines.
“It is so awesome to represent India in Brazil, and emerge as Neymar Jr’s Five 2018 National Champions from 2809 teams. The level here is extremely high,” said Captain of Joga Bonito, Daniel Fernandes, after the game.
Daniel and his teammates have been fascinated by the Brazilian football culture since the inception of the team. The Portuguese words, ‘Joga Bonito’ which mean ‘The Beautiful Game’ were actually popularised by Pele in his autobiography.
“Ten years back when we started our club, we had decided to play in Brazil someday, because our team’s name, as you know, is Joga Bonito which is representative of Brazil and thanks to Red Bull, this is where we have come now,” said Daniel.
“We are so elated that we beat a strong team like Chile and gave a tough fight to Colombia who were eventual semi-finalists. Our dream of seeing our role model Neymar Jr. so close in person has come true,” he further added.
Team India comprised Anthony Machado, Johnson Dsilva, Mervin Stephen, Preetam Mahadik, Daniel Fernandes, Scott Dsouza and Pratik Kadam.
Ney and his entourage
Over 1,25,000 players signed up for a qualifier in this year’s competition as elite five-a-side players battled it out in 62 countries across six continents. Mexico won all nine games they played, including a 5-2 win over Argentina in the final, to land the title in the mixed competition.
The honor of being the first ever female world champions went to the home nation Brazil, who went unbeaten throughout the tournament and narrowly overcame Italy 1-0 in a final which had to be settled by a 1v1 ‘golden goal’.
Neymar said, “It makes me really proud and gives me immense happiness to bring all these countries with different cultures, to know not only Brazil but also the Instituto and the area where I was raised. It felt really good to be at home after a lot of suffering.”
He also played two games with the winner Mexico
“It was my first game after the World Cup and I am really happy to be here. I watched a lot of games and I am happy to see the competition growing, with a lot of teams taking part. Football is for everyone, from all the ages, and for everyone who loves it. To make a championship that highlights that makes me really happy” said Neymar.