The Tiger Street Football tournament held in Sydney has seen Team Gaganiani dramatically win through to November’s final as Australia’s representative
A typically fast-paced day’s action saw 32 teams whittled down to just one as the side from Sydney’s north-west ultimately claimed the glory with a hard-fought 6-5 extra time win over Red Dragons on Saturday evening.
Team Gaganiani will join Anachak Baitong who won March’s initial leg of the Tiger Street Football in Cambodia, ahead of five further events for 2013 in Mongolia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and China and the ensuing final.
While Team Gaganiani took the glory it was the fans who were the real winners with a regular stream of fans filing into the picturesque purpose-built court at Circular Quay, with the iconic and world famous Sydney Opera House providing a stunning backdrop.
Sydney’s ferries serenely glided by with regularity but on the court the action was fast, furious and intense.
So too, an impressive level of skill was on display and the four semi-finalists – Red Dragons, Bosnia, The Hektics and Team Gaganiani – demonstrated that the local talent will provide a stern test for the four visiting teams on Day 2.
Sunday’s second and final day of action will feature teams from Germany, Malaysia, Vietnam and Spain up against the four local representatives in an eight-team event.
Aside from the football action, fans at Saturday’s event were treated to continual entertainment and there was a taste of next year’s FIFA World Cup with Brazilian dancers and drummers providing a colourful interlude as the day’s action reached the business end.
So too, Tiger Street Football ambassador Fabio Cannavaro proved popular both in and out of the cage. Lucky fans took the opportunity for a photo and autograph, prior to the 2006 FIFA World Cup skipper taking the court and showing he has lost little form since his Azzurri days in an all-star match-up against Fox Sports.
The host broadcaster of tomorrow’s finals fielded their own headline acts with former Socceroos and English Premier League star Robbie Slater among those lining-up.
It was a light-hearted prelude to the marquee event of the day as Team Gaganiani and Red Dragons did battle in a remarkable finale.
Earlier Red Dragons had prevailed 6-3 against Bosnia, while Team Gaganiani saw off the The Hektics 3-1 in a tighter affair.
After a tense opening in the final, Team Gaganiani overturned an early 1-0 deficit to lead 2-1 at the break. They then roared to 5-1 advantage with a series of quickfire goals.
With more than a hint of Brazilian flavour in their ranks, Red Dragons proved their tenacity storming back to level 5-5.
With countless chances at either end the final remained on a knife edge before concluding in the second period of extra time with a thrilling winner from a free-kick.