Italy have underlined their FIFA Futsal World Cup title credentials with a thumping 9-1 win over Australia at Bangkok’s Nimibutr Stadium in their Thailand 2012 opener.
Finalists in 2004 and bronze medallists four years ago, Gli Azzurri embarked on a goal spree after a tight opening 15 minutes in which the Australia keeper, Peter Spathis, excelled. The breakthrough, when it finally arrived, came via an unlikely source, with goalkeeper Stefano Mammarella’s long throw squared by Marcio Forte for Rodolfo Fortino to side-foot into the top left-hand corner.
With that, the floodgates opened, Saad Assis making it 2-0 with a powerful low right-foot before Gabriel Lima added a superb, deceiving Tobias Seeto with a dragback before drilling a shot under the body of the helpless Spathis. Just before half-time, another long throw from Mammarella was perfectly judged for Forte to make it 4-0 as he flicked a deft volley over the advancing keeper.
Italy started the second half as they had ended the first, with Sergio Romano chipping in a fifth inside a minute of the restart and Assis scoring his second with a spectacular long-range shot soon after. Humberto Honario then made it seven from close range after some great footwork and unselfish set-up play by Fortino, and Giuseppe Mentasti and Alex Merlim got in on the act with goals eight and nine before Danny Ngaluafe burst through the Italian defence to pull one back for the beleaguered Aussies.
“Even when we didn’t score for the first 15 minutes, I wasn’t worried. I just told the players to be calm because the chances were coming – their keeper was just playing really well, and we kept hitting the post and the bar. In the end, I have to be satisfied with the result, although I’m a little frustrated with the goal we lost as I would have liked a clean sheet,” Roberto Menichelli, Italy coach.
“The level Italy play at is obvious. We are an amateur team and train only once or twice a week; it's already a great effort that we made it to the World Cup. Against teams like Italy you end up being fatigued, and they take advantage of that,” Steven Knight, Australia coach.