| KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 28, 2008) – Their rich tradition in the five-a-side game and the reputation they bring to the game as the world’s No 1 futsal nation has made them the envy of the rest in the KL World 5s which officially kicks off tomorrow at the Stadium Negara.
The Brazilians have included Falcao, widely acknowledged as the best ever player to grace the futsal court, in their bid to wrest the title they lost to Argentina in the 2003 edition.
And according to the team’s International Affairs Director, Fernando Fernandez, there is another name in the long list of illustrious Brazilan players to watch out for in Kuala Lumpur.
That of winger Minthyue Linhares.
“He is the rising star of Brazilian futsal now,” said Fernandez.
Brazil, by everyone’s expectations are the favourites to lift the title this time and the 2-3 loss to Argentina in the final of the 2003 edition, was but a small hiccup in their quest to take home yet another title.
“We have had six decades of futsal experience and that’s why we can take our level a notch higher than the rest. We mean business that does not mean there will be no surprises. I am sure they will be as the tournament progress,” said Fernandez.
And Argentina,like in 2003, could spring a few surprises too.
After all they are being coached by Jose Laranaga who is said to be a world class in the making.
Their approach to football and the technical abilities of their players are always a delight to watch.
Don’t discount the Dutch too. They have the discipline and they have the know-how and above all they have the experience. And they were the finalist in the inaugural Fifa World championship of 1989.
And last year they won the Edegem Four-Nation Futsal tournament when they finished ahead of Belgium, Lithuania and England.
England completes the European line-up in the week-long tournamemt and while they admit they are poor cousins of the 11-a-side game, judging by the amount of media coverage back home, they are here on a learning process.
“And to be drawn in the same group with Argentina may just be a coincidence. I know people cannot resist talking about the England-Argentina rivalry but I see it as just another game,” said England’s head coach Graeme Dell.
There is also the rivarly in the Asian camp which could set the tournament alight.
Host Malaysia vs Indonesia in a continuation of their South East rivalry; Iran versus Thailand to see who is King of Continent and can China play the role of the spoilers?
Malaysia playing in front of their own supporters, hope to cement their growing confidence in the game after their silver medal effort behind Thailand in the recent Sea Games in Korat.
Coach P. Balakrishnan is aware that the expectations are high and his main challenge to lift his players after the three-week break following the Korat assignment.
“Playing at home means the fans will expect more from the team. We have to learn to live with it. But more importantly, we must also learn to take the pressure and handle one match at a time,” he added.
The pressure is on the others to beat Brazil if the KL World 5s is to be won.
QUOTES FROM THE OTHER TEAMS
China’s Brazilian born coach Farinha: We are still new to the game and looking back we only had four years of experience in playing futsal. We are still learning and to be given the chance to play Brazil and the Asian kingpins Iran is a privelage.
Australia’s chief coach Scott Gilligan: It’s has been tough in our preparation for the tournament. The distance means we cannot get our players together all the time and we have to admit we are not in the calibre of Brazil or Argentina. But we know we are in for an exciting time at the World KL 5’s.
Indonesia: Yohaness Umbas, team manager: There is no burden on us and we have no target set. It’s a big challenge for us but we are not going to be intimidated by the big names. We are not here to defend. It would be pointless anyway and whatever the results we are here to learn.”
PIC: FERNANDO FERNANDEZ, BRAZIL’S INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS DIRECTOR