Perth presence again strong as Scotland go for futsal World Cup qualifying glory

Another strong Perth presence thanks the Scotland national futsal squad at this week’s World Cup qualifiers.

A large chunk of the team, captained by Kyle Ballingall, have strong local links and have headed to Bulgaria for the showpiece event.

The Scots will compete in the city of Varna and play in Group C against Armenia, Kosovo and the hosts.

First up, on Friday afternoon, is familiar opposition in Armenia. The teams drew 2-2 two years ago.

Head coach Gordon McGillivray, also from Perth, sees the latest qualifiers as a big opportunity to impress.

“We’ve been training since mid-December and, now that we’re finally here, the excitement is really there,” he said.

“We’ve got two new players in, both from Dundee Futsal Club, who will be making their debut in the squad.

“We also have that core who have played a lot of internationals together, so our hopes are high.

“We are fourth seeds in the group but our expectations are high going into the event.

“The top seeds are Kosovo, who are not quite as good as teams we’ve played in the past – like Belgium. So we’re hoping to be competitive in every game.

“We need to make sure we are solid and understand, in some of the matches, we are going to have to suffer a bit.

“It’s how you turn that around and come back from it which is key and ensuring you keep a positive attitude.”

The Scottish Super League is back up and running, affording many of the national squad players much-needed competitive action following Covid-19 stoppages.

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“The guys have been back playing at Super League level, playing full stop-clock games again,” McGillivray said.

“It is two years now since we played qualifiers in Belgium and we did well there – getting our first result at a qualifying campaign. We want to build on that.

“It was important that we got back to Super League futsal for the boys playing in Scotland.

“The two best teams in the Super League over the past three or four years have been from Perth.

“Perth is still the heart of futsal in Scotland. They still make up the core of the team.”

McGillivray previously had a taste of taking charge of the national team but he now has the role on a permanent basis.

“I was in charge of the team in Belgium but that was only on a temporary basis,” he said.

“But now I’ve got the job full-time, I’m really looking forward to it. I see this as a starting point for us to really kick on.

“We don’t want to be fourth seeds in the groups going forward. There’s a real opportunity for us to climb the rankings.”

Scotland squad: Goalkeepers – Robert Black (Dundee Futsal Club), Darren Clarkson (Letham Santos), Ben O’Hanlon (Wessex Futsal Club). Defenders – Kyle Ballingall (PYF Saltires), James Gunn (Sunderland University Futsal), Fraser Smith (Letham Santos). Midfielders – Louie Anderson (Dundee Futsal Club), Josh Clark (Sunderland University Futsal), Ryan Robb (Letham Santos), Scott Smith (PYF Saltires), Bradley Steedman (PYF Saltires). Forwards – Ahmed Aloulou (PYF Saltires), Alan Cunningham (Letham Santos), Connor McLaren (PYF Saltires).

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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