Finals chance for Sannum to cap great year

It has been a big year for Mike Sannum and he has a chance to cap if off in the best possible way this weekend.

The 28-year-old will be integral to Southern United's chances at the national futsal league finals weekend, starting today in Wellington.

He was named the league's most valuable player last year, when the team finished strongly to claim the title.

That was followed by a recall to the national set-up six years after last playing for the Futsal Whites.

While he had tried to step up his game again for Southern this year, he felt last year's result was not influencing the team.

"I think we've tried to sort of play it down a bit this year," he said.

"The first series against Canterbury it affected us a little bit, but after that we haven't really thought about it too much.

"We've just sort of gone out and tried to play every team on their merits and haven't thought about what happened last year.

"I don't think it's played on anyone's minds too much."

He had enjoyed coming back into the national league after his winter with the Futsal Whites.

That had consisted of regular training camps in Christchurch, as well as a couple of national ones in Auckland.

He impressed enough to be selected for the side to travel to China in June, although illness prevented him from going.

That was disappointing, although he was glad to have the recognition.

He was hopeful of playing in next year's World Cup qualifiers.

Sannum's focus had been purely on futsal this year, having previously juggled that and football.

The national involvement, alongside extra winter trainings in Otago, had been key factors in that decision.

He enjoyed both, although both ability and enjoyment factors had been what tipped him towards futsal.

"I think I enjoy it more - you're on the ball more and you can impact the game more too.

"I think there was more of a pathway for myself.

"I don't think I was ever going to push on and make the Phoenix or the All Whites.

"But definitely had the chance to make that extra step for futsal."

While he felt one could benefit the other, it was hard to do both football and futsal at a high level.

"I think you can do both to a certain level.

"Once you get to national league level and above you've kind of got to choose which route you want to go down because there's a crossover in lots of the weekends you play.

"But in terms of the skill set, futsal certainly makes you a better footballer and I've seen that personally.

"It just depends which route you want to go down."

Southern plays Auckland and Bay of Plenty today, and Waikato and Northern tomorrow.

It enters in fourth place and has a four-point buffer over fifth-placed Canterbury.

Should it remain in the top four it will play in Sunday's semifinals, with the chance to play in the final at 12.30pm.


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