Brazil further underlined their hegemony in South America with a 2-0 win over Argentina in the final of the South American U-20 Futsal Championship Venezuela 2006, retaining the title they had won two years ago.
The last place on the podium was taken by the hosts, 5-2 victors over Uruguay in the match for third place, much to the delight of a large crowd at San Cristobal's Campeones Mundiales de 1997 Sports Centre, where the event was played out.
The all-conquering Brazilians, who won the inaugural edition of the competition on home soil in Fortaleza in 2004, retained their crown with a flawless display that saw them win all five of their games. They boasted the tournament's most potent forward line, with 23 goals, and its meanest defence, with just six conceded - the latter statistic earning Guilherme the award for best goalkeeper.
That said, the two-time champions did not have everything their own way. Paraguay's Guillermo Duarte, scorer of eight goals (including six against Peru in the match for seventh place) won the top-scorer award ahead of Venezuela's Gabriel Colmenares (six) and Brazil's Willian (five). Argentina, for their part, picked up the Fair Play award to add to their silver medals.
Brazil all the way
"We proved that our country has quality players in the youth categories. These youngsters are extremely talented, and they put on a peerless display by digging deep when they had to," said Verdeamarelho coach Totonho after the final.
"They are a good bunch of lads, and this success won't go to their heads. They understand that the group is more important than the individual, and that everyone performs better when we play as a team."
En route to retaining the title, Brazil topped Group A with wins over Paraguay, Ecuador and Argentina. They then followed that with an emphatic 5-1 victory over Group B runners-up Uruguay in the semi-final to set up a rematch with the Albiceleste, only this time with the continental championship at stake.
As expected, Argentina provided very stiff opposition for the Canarinha, who had goalkeeper Guilherme to thank early on for twice keeping them on level terms. Brazil, in contrast, made no mistake when through on goal and went in at the interval two up after strikes by William and Dimas. Indeed, though they failed to add to their tally in the second half, they remained well in control throughout.
"A couple of mistakes on our part presented them with two good scoring chances," bemoanedTotonho afterwards. "If they'd capitalised on either of those, it could have been a very different story."
Argentina and Venezuela take comfort
"On the whole it's been a positive experience," claimed Argentina coach Fernando Larranaga. "In the semi-final we managed to beat a tough Venezuela side on their own patch, and Brazil only narrowly defeated us in the decider. We're improving, and I think the gap between us and Brazil is closing. We're definitely on the right track."
The Albiceleste's most impressive display came precisely in that semi-final meeting with the hosts, when the 5-1 scoreline was testimony to their ruthless finishing. Nevertheless, it was their solid defending that impressed most throughout the tournament. Their rearguard was breached just seven times during the five games - the second best defensive record at the championship - and four of those goals were scored by Brazil.
Venezuela, for their part, had to settle for a somewhat disappointing third place. "Both the players and the fans were really hoping to make the final and repeat what we did two years ago in Fortaleza," said Vinotinto coach Alvaro Guevara. "We made a few bad mistakes (in the semi-final) against Argentina, which cost us dearly, but we'll learn from our mistakes. In general though, I thought it was acceptable."
Final standings - Group A
Brazil 9 points (+11); Argentina 6 (+1); Ecuador 3 (0); Paraguay 0 (-12)
Final standings - Group B
Venezuela 7 (+8); Uruguay 4 (-4); Colombia 3 (+1); Peru 3 (-5)
Match for seventh place - 25.10.06
Paraguay 11 - 3 Peru
Match for fifth place - 25.10.06
Colombia 3 - 4 Ecuador
Match for third place - 28.10.06
Uruguay 2 - 5 Venezuela
Final - 28.10.06
Brazil 2 - 0 Argentina
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