FIFA Futsal World Cup 2008 – Brazil Triumph On Home Ground
When Selecao captain Vinicius lifted the FIFA Futsal World Cup trophy at midday on 19 October 2008, it was a case of “mission accomplished”, as for the fourth time in the history of the event,
Brazil are the Futsal World Champions.
Paulo de Oliveira’s charges were impressive throughout the tournament on home territory, dominating their rivals at will from start to finish. The Brazilians won all seven of their first- and second-round matches en route to a remarkable record of 58 goals for and only four against.
Falcao & co. never looked in any danger in their semi-final clash with Russia either and there was never a shred of doubt about which team would reach the final. The showdown with arch-rivals and holders Spain was the only match that the FIFA Futsal World Cup hosts failed to win in normal time, but they proceeded to
claim the trophy in a six-metre shoot-out, sending the crowd at the Maracanazinho in Rio de Janeiro into raptures.
The tournament statistics and the individual awards reflected the new world champions’ superiority in almost every department. The top three players in the competition – Falcao, Schumacher and Tiago — were all Brazilian. Futsal superstar Falcao (“I feel fulfilled now”) and team-mate Lenisio also collected the Adidas Silver and Bronze Shoe respectively after finishing as second- and third-highest scorers. The hosts also boasted
the tournament’s best goalkeeper, Tiago. Runners-up Spain earned huge respect as Jose Venancio Lopez’s side were the only team capable of matching the Autiverdes. After claiming the trophy twice in a tow, the Iberians and veteran stars Javi Rodriguez, Kike and Marcelo had to settle for the runners-up spot, but captain Rodriguez at least had the minor consolation of accepting the Fair Play award on behalf of his team-mates.
Iran and Russia were the surprise packages of the event. The Asian champions were just one goal shy of reaching the semi-finals, as Italy edged into the final four instead. Iran skipper Vahid Shamsaee showed huge potential and was named as one of the ten best players by the FIFA Technical Study Group. His team-mate Mostafa Nazari also caught the eye and finished second in the running for the Best Goalkeeper award.
Oleg Ivanov’s Russians also confirmed their emergence as a new power in the game. Although the Eastern Europeans lost out to the Brazilians in the last four and then fell to Italy in the match for third place, the tournament’s leading scorer Pula and his team-mates enjoyed a highly impressive tournament. This young Russian team will have high hopes of being there or thereabouts at the next FIFA Futsal World Cup in four years’ time.
Italy, runners-up in 2004 and again at the 2007 European Championship, once again claimed a place in the last four, falling only to European rivals Spain in the very last second of extra-time. Veteran 37-year-old keeper Alexandre Feller, captain Grana and the tricky Adriano Foglia were the mainstays and stars of the Italian team.
The tournament also threw up a whole host of promising newcomers. Ukraine, for example, emerged triumphantly from a group including Argentina, Egypt and Guatemala. Although the latter missed out on a place in the second round, the CONCACAF champions are unquestionably rich in promise.
Portugal and Argentina will not retain such fond memories of the event, however. The Europeans failed to make it beyond the first round, a major setback after their positive showings at previous FIFA World Cups” and European Championships. Argentina were also left frustrated after missing out on a spot in the last four, and they would certainly have been hoping for more following a creditable fourth-place finish in Chinese Taipei in 2004.
There were signs of hope for the remaining teams too. Czech Republic, Libya, Thailand and Cuba all had their moments, although they will be only too conscious of the hard work that still lies ahead of them if they are to close the gap on the futsal elite.
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