Futsal is an indoor version of football, derived from the Portuguese futbebol de salao and Spanish futbol sala, which means indoor football.
Unlike association football (which has 11 players each by both teams), Futsal is played between two teams of five players each including a goalkeeper.
A team may have seven substitutes per game, which is usually played with a smaller ball with less bounce than a football.
In Africa, Futsal was popular in the North and some parts of the South, but gradually other nations have developed an interest for the indoor version of football expected to hit every corner of the continent within a short time.
The continent’s soccer controlling body, Confederation of African Football (CAF) as part of it quest to develop the game on the continent introduced the African Futsal Championship. It was first held in Egypt in 1996, and has since been played every four years.
Egypt, who boast of one of the best Futsal teams on the continent, have emerged winners on all three occasions.
The maiden edition came off in Cairo in 1996, and had some participating countries as Ghana, Zimbabwe, Somalia among others.
Egypt, hosts beat Ghana in the final to emerge as the first winner of a Caf-organised Futsal tourney; a feat they replicated in 2000 and 2004 with victories over Morocco and Mozambique respectively.
Egypt, by virtue of being the African champions earned a ticket to participate in the world event, World Futsal Championships all three times.
First in Barcelona in 1996, Guatemala (2000) and Taiwan (2004), but failed to progress beyond the group stages each time.
Prior to that Algeria and Nigeria had participated in the 1989 and 1992 editions in the Netherlands and Hong Kong, as representatives of the continent.
In some parts of Southern America where Futsal is very popular, members of the national various national teams have been graduates of Futsal tournament.
Brazilian greats such as Ronaldinho, Robinho, Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Juninho started out playing futsal.
With Futsal spreading fast around Africa, it is anticipated that players at future African Cup of Nations, would have been products of the African Futsal championship.
Ten countries will be participating in the event which kicks of in Libya next week. They are Libya (host), Angola, Cameroon, Egypt, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia and Zambia.
Safa’s squad to represent the country in this year’s event are: Jermaine Taylor (Western Cape), Anthony Jacobs (Eastern Cape), Shokwe Mashaba (Free State), Ishmael Motumi (Free State), Andile Sibizo (Northern Cape), Dlozi Nkosi (Gauteng), Thapelo Mofale (Gauteng), Carlton Stevens (Western Cape), Majidie Taliep (Western Cape), Kerwin Jean Pierre (KZN), Ashley Naidoo (KZN), and Lemmy Masilo (North West).
Five players on standby are: They are Andile Cloete (Northern Cape) Thabang Malatsi (Gauteng), Maswanganyi Nomatier (Limpopo), Nkgetheng Mametja (Mpumalanga) and Bongani Ndululu (Eastern Cape).