Czech Republic have taken the early initiative in Group E at the FIFA Futsal World Cup, surviving a late rally from Kuwait to win 3-2 at Bangkok’s Huamark Indoor Stadium. Goals from Marek Kopecky, Michal Belej and Tomas Koudelka gave the Europeans a hard-fought victory over their enthusiastic opponents, which leaves them top of a section in which Egypt and Serbia meet this evening.
The Czechs enjoyed the better of the chances throughout, but this was a low-scoring affair by futsal standards, with just one goal separating the sides at half-time. It arrived after five minutes courtesy of Kopecky, with the veteran Czech star bursting through on the left and firing in a first-time shot that flew through the legs of Hani Mhisen on its way into the net.
Kuwait had their moments at the other end, but it was the men in red who always looked more likely to add to the scoreline and, sure enough, a second goal arrived three minutes into the second half. This time, it was an opportunist effort from Belej, who nipped in to poke the ball over the line after Abdulraham Alwadi made the mistake of attempting to control Jan Janovsky’s cross rather than clear first time.
Koudelka then made it 3-0 from close range, although that was the signal for Kuwait to go for broke and stage a surprising late comeback. Hamad Al Awadhi sparked the late drama by prodding home from the edge of the box to finish off a terrific breakaway, and Czech keeper Libor Gercak increased the excitement by allowing a harmless looking shot from Abdulrahman Altawail to slip through his legs and trickle over the line.
“We had watched Kuwait two or three times on DVD, so we knew how they would approach the game. It was a very difficult match but in the end we did enough to win.”
Libor Gercak, Czech Republic goalkeeper
“I thought that Kuwait were the better of the two teams, but the Czechs succeeded because their players are more experienced. All of their goals came from our mistakes. But I am happy with the attitude and work-rate of my players, and we will go into our next match against Serbia with the same mentality.”
Luis Fonseca, Kuwait coach.