Detroit Waza Flo host Harrisburg Heat Saturday in home opener

MELVINDALE, Mich. - Detroit Waza Flo will host the first game of this inaugural and history-making season with the MASL (Major Arena Soccer League) at 7 p.m. Saturday against former PASL rival Harrisburg Heat.

"This is a huge merger of the MISL and the PASL that has blended together to make the MASL. It is the largest arena league in the history of North America," said Waza owner/player/coach Dominic Scicluna.

Last year in the PASL, the Harrisburg Heat beat Waza in the home opener and again the three times the teams met. However, Waza has made some changes with naming Costeau Decu (Waza's No. 2 leading scorer and previous assistant coach) and adding Mircu Gubellini as an assistant. Harrisburg has also named a new coach with Tarik Walker taking the helm.

The Waza Flo team is confident they have what it takes to be a tough competitor in this league with their changes and the new "flavor" they have brought to the team with having a Romanian coach, an Italian assistant coach and a new Italian goalkeeper (Matteo Zani), along with keeping their core group of strong veterans, such as forward Victor Otieno from Kenya and bringing back veteran goalkeeper Vito Lonigro.

Scicluna said this combination helps to "stir the pot … to actually blend these different cultures together into one. "

There will be many new teams that Waza Flo will have to face including those from the MISL that feel they are ranked higher coming into the season than the former PASL teams.

"Being an underdog is a wonderful and great challenge for us in starting the season," said Scicluna. 

Head coach Decu is "really confident with what we have.

"It's a matter of getting them as fit as possible," said Decu, which has been primarily assistant coach Mirrco's position. "And make them understand it is a mental game also. Sometimes it's a game of inches."

Decu went on to explain that he is "trying to build the mentality to go one game at a time, just win one game and then go to the next."

"Just build a house brick by brick essentially," he said. "We are thinking about winning every single ball and every single game."

Detroit Waza Flo hosted their annual press conference at the Melvindale Civic Arena on Thursday, in which some new players and some veterans were there as well to answer questions and to provide further insight into the new league and the new season.

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Veteran player Michael Grba, which is starting his 4th season with Waza Flo, went on to explain the team's dynamic as "it is Waza style."

"It is such an international group, there is flare and some gangster in it. The atmosphere this preseason has been fantastic," said Grba. "This is my 4th season here and in all 3 years we made the playoffs and one year made it to the finals. I can say this preseason has been the best to date. We have the unity and the league of nations as you can see here, very diverse."

The commentator for the press conference and announcer at all of the Waza Flo games, Rich Kincaide, discussed how exciting the game is to see in person when a fan can be 10 to 15 feet from the field and not only can see the collisions but can hear them.

Mario Scicluna, president and player for Waza Flo, responded to Kincaide regarding the new allowance of slide tackle rule.

"The game is very high paced, very physical and it raises the level of play," he said. "You have to be technical, physical, high scoring and you also have to be careful. You can't go in half stepping so you have to go in 100 percent all of the time with the ball."

Waza will play 20 games this season and all of their games along with the rest of the MASL games will be broadcasted live on golivesportscast.com

While other teams in the league are dealing with big budgets, Waza is just a small family owned operation so the challenges will be quite large for them. They hope to make their presence known with their level and style of play. The Waza name is known to many around the country and the world, as mentioned on their Wikipedia site, "Waza" is both a Japanese word that means "good technique" and a Swahili word meaning "to think clearly".

Coach Decu is confident as well in his team's position in this new league.

"New teams are new teams, the way I see it, we are going to take everybody on and we will see how it is going when it comes to game time," he said. "We know some of the teams are really dangerous. If you let them play they can hurt us, yes we are aware of that. But on the other hand, I believe in our group and you know what, we are going to go and fight and see the outcome."

Owner Dominic Scicluna responded about being a smaller owned team and one that has not played against a lot of the teams in this league.

"Anybody that likes hard-hitting soccer, I encourage everybody to come on out to watch us play," he said.

Waza takes on the Harrisburg Heat at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Melvindale Civic Arena (4300 S Dearborn St, Melvindale, MI 48122).

Ticket prices are $12 for adults and $8 for children ages 3-12.

Tickets can be purchased online here.

The full schedule can be found here.

Follow @KellyHaapala on Twitter for the latest college soccer news. 
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