Brazil assert South American dominance

Four-time world champions Brazil continued their dominance of the South American futsal scene at the weekend, securing their ninth continental title in ten attempts by downing hosts Argentina 5-1 in the final of the 2011 Copa America de Futsal, held in Buenos Aires.

Completing the podium were Paraguay, who beat tournament revelations Colombia 3-1 in the match for third place.

FIFA.com rounds up all the news from an entertaining tournament, one that provided the last major test for South America’s finest before they battle it out for four world finals slots at next April’s qualifying competition for the FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012.

In a class of their own
Aside from being held to a 2-2 draw by Argentina in their final game in Group A, reigning world champions Brazil were in otherwise unstoppable form, thrashing Chile 14-2 and Peru 8-1 en route to winning the section. An emphatic 6-2 semi-final defeat of Paraguay followed, the prelude to another commanding display in the final, as Marcos Sorato’s side outclassed the hosts to take the regional honours yet again.

“We nullified Argentina,” said a satisfied Sorato afterwards. “The team didn’t make the mistakes they’d been making before, and we’re continuing to move in the right direction. We know we need to improve and keep striving for more, and though we didn’t have a lot of time to prepare the end result was good.”

Brazil also completed a clean sweep in the individual awards, with libero Neto voted the player of the tournament, wing man Valdin top-scoring in the competition with nine goals in five games, and keeper Djony conceding the fewest goals, a mere seven in five matches.

Heads held high
Despite coming up short in the final, Argentina can be content with their showing on home soil. The only team to have broken Brazil’s domination of the competition, winning the title in Paraguay in 2003, and the only other South American side along with Brazil to have appeared at every FIFA Futsal World Cup to date, La Albiceleste lived up to their reputation in front of their fans.

Second only on goal difference to Brazil in their pool, Fernando Larranaga’s men flexed their muscles in a 5-0 defeat of Colombia in the semi-finals. Two of those goals came from their leading scorer, experienced pivot Cristian Borruto, who scored six in five games despite going goalless in both meetings with the Brazilians.

Paraguay, who have four world finals appearances to their name, third only to the continent’s big two, also matched their expectations by avenging their group-phase loss to Colombia with victory in the third-place play-off.

“We did what we set out to do after losing to Brazil in the semis, and that was to finish third,” said Richard Rejala, Paraguay’s top scorer with six goals and one of the new faces brought into the side after the 2008 world finals. “It was important to finish on a high and give ourselves a confidence boost ahead of next year’s qualifiers.”

Colombia impress, Uruguay fall short
The only one of the top four sides never to have contested a FIFA Futsal World Cup, Colombia surprised many people by emerging unbeaten from the five-team Group B with ten points. Los Cafeteros showed they could perform under pressure by beating Paraguay in the decisive game in the section to seal their progress to the last four. Though two defeats followed, the Colombians possess quality in every department and can look forward to the qualifying competition for Thailand 2012 with optimism.

Their progress to the semis came at the expense of Uruguay, participants at three of the last four world finals and continental runners-up in 2008. La Celeste paid dearly for a narrow defeat to the Paraguayans and a draw with Colombia, though they can still be expected to figure strongly in the fight for a place in Thailand.