Brazilians blaze a trail

Far from being overawed by their hugely successful male counterparts, the Brazilian women’s futsal team seem intent on matching them every step of the way. After their dazzling and ruthless performances at the South American Women’s Futsal Championship Venezuela 2011, A Canarinha walked away with another regional crown, their fourth in four editions of the tournament.

The reigning champions routed Argentina 8-1 in the decider to crown a near-perfect campaign in which they also picked up the individual accolades on offer. The last place on the podium went to Paraguay after they saw off the hosts 4-2 in the match for third place. FIFA.com reviews the best of the action from the Venezuelan city of Maracay.

All-conquering Canarinha
Vander Iacovino’s charges were far and away the best side in Venezuela, as a quick look at the stats will confirm. A Seleção won all five of their games, racking up an incredible 60 goals and conceding just four. What’s more, in beating bronze medallists Paraguay 21-1, they set a new tournament record for a winning margin. Such was their domination that only once did they find themselves behind, and that just briefly in the final against Argentina. “The stats show what a good campaign we had,” said the coach afterwards. “We conceded very few goals and we functioned really well as a unit, something that was key to our winning the title,” he added.

The tournament top-scorer was Brazil’s Lu with 12 goals, followed by her compatriots Vanessa (9) and Ju Delgado (7). Unsurprisingly the Best Goalkeeper award went to the victorious captain Jozi, whose side also picked up the Fair Play accolade. “We’ve proven once again that this is a winning group who are very clear about their goals and how to achieve them,” concluded Iacovino.

Podium finishes
Argentina’s passage to the final was also impressive, with Fernando Larranaga’s topping Group A with four wins from four, including a vital 2-1 defeat of the hosts. La Albiceleste then showed considerable maturity in overcoming Paraguay in their semi-final and even briefly went ahead in the decider against Brazil. While their joy was short-lived, the runners-up took plenty of positives from the event, not least the form of forwards Cintia Romano, Debora Molina and Maria Pia, whose four goals apiece helped them secure a place among the medals for the first time since the inaugural edition in 2005.  

Enjoying a maiden top-three finish were Paraguay, who, in spite of heavy consecutive defeats to Brazil and Argentina, roused themselves to prevail 4-2 against the hosts in the bronze-medal match. Equally encouraging for Las Albirrojas was their 3-2 group-stage win over Colombia, runners-up in the previous two editions.

Venezuela, meanwhile, could not quite match their third-place finishes of 2007 and 2009. A group-stage reverse against Argentina consigned them to a last-four meeting with Brazil, who showed no mercy in a 10-0 drubbing. And while a loss to Paraguay in the last game was not the finale the hosts had dreamed of, they can be optimistic about the future with talents like Nayre Gonzalez (three goals) and Yeremi Silva (two) in the side.

Worthy of mention were the performances of Ecuador’s Valeria Palacios, author of six of her side’s seven goals, and that of Chile’s Daniela Pardo, who hit five. Less encouraged will be Peru, who, after finishing fourth two years ago, look to have lost ground after finishing last of the nine competing sides.