Neymar’s five-a-side tourney debuts in Nigeria

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PHOTO:AFP

A five-a-side tournament named after football star, Neymar Jnr., will debut in Nigeria in March this year, the organisers have said.

The unique competition, which was launched by Neymar in December 2015 in Brazil, will be kicking off for the first time in Africa and aims to attract the nation’s most talented street footballers.

The 2017 qualification rounds will be held across 10 locations, with two days of group stage qualifications before a final knock-out round for the top scoring teams. Games are quick, fast paced, and each team will get to play at least twice in the group stages.

The unique thing about this tournament is that a team loses a player when they concede a goal. The national finals would be held in Victoria Island, Lagos on May 20, 2017 and the winners would go on to represent the country at the international finals in Brazil.

An online site, www.neymarjrsfive.com has been created to facilitate the processes. With free registration, demand is high, and total teams allowed into the tournament are limited. This means teams need to register online to guarantee their spot or show up on day 1 at 9.00 a.m. to register in person at their selected qualification location.

Nigeria’s national champions will be flown out to play in the world final in July in Brazil, all-expense paid. The best scorer would also get an opportunity to have trials with ABS FC of Ilorin, one of the sponsors of the Neymar Jr’s five. Other sponsors of the competition in Nigeria are Snickers, while Red Bull is the official partner worldwide.

More than 65,000 players from 47 countries signed up to play in the first year of Neymar Jr’s Five and the organizers say this year promises to be even bigger. This year’s tournament is open to teams of five to seven players, aged 16 to 25, and for the first time, two over-aged players are allowed on the squad.

Two substitutions are to be made by groups and there’s no gender discrimination, which means both male and female players can make up a team. No goalkeeper is allowed, as no player can obstruct the goal with his or her hands nor venture inside the goal zone.

The teams will set out in the hope of making it all the way from the qualifiers, to their national final and on to the World Final in July 2017, at the Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr in Praia Grande, Brazil.

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