Southern in control of its own destiny

There is everything to play for in the national futsal league this weekend.

With the last series to be played today and tomorrow in Auckland, followed by the playoffs on Sunday, Southern United finds itself in a scrap for the top four.

It is tied for third on 16 points alongside Auckland and WaiBOP,  a point behind Northern, four behind Capital and three in front of Hawke’s Bay.

However, with its remaining four games being against those teams — except Capital — Southern is in control of its own fate.

"It’s hard, but it’s good," Southern coach Darren Hart said.

"It’s difficult playing the three really good sides in one weekend.

"But at the same time it means we have that power that if we need to jump over one of those teams we can do that by beating them.

"So destiny’s held in our own hands, so to speak, rather than worrying about other teams having to beat them."

The side had struggled in Christchurch, although bounced back well in the last series in Wellington.

Hart said the team traditionally struggled in Christchurch, as the court there was smaller.

That had been resolved in Wellington, as the side picked up three wins from its four games, pegging back four points on Auckland and WaiBOP.

"Wellington was nice because it opened up again and Auckland was even bigger again.

"A big-sized court suits us. It’s tiring to play on, but we do enjoy having the space."

That leaves the side in a contrasting position to last year, when it was the clear favourite heading into the final weekend.

On that occasion it dipped out in the semifinals, although with many players returning, Hart hopes  that experience would help this year.

Despite having not performed quite so well this season, he is unsure whether it is really in a worse position.

"It’s pretty hard. I’m not sure there’s a good or bad way of doing it.

"A couple of years before we had to really kill ourselves to beat sides to get into the top four.

"Then when we got into the top four we were shattered and we were run down for the semifinals and finals.

"Then last year we were relatively comfortable and knew we just had to win one game and we’d be through and we lost in the semifinals even though we were fresh.

"I’m not certain you gain a huge amount either way."

Hart feels Southern will need to win three of its games to safely navigate its way to the playoffs.

It plays its first game at noon today against Auckland.

Should it advance to the top four, the semifinals are to be held at 9am and 10.45am on Sunday, with the final scheduled for 1.30pm.

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