Brazil have started their defence of the FIFA Futsal World Cup title with a 4-1 win over Japan at the Korat Chatchai Hall in Nakhon Ratchasima. The result leaves the reigning champions perched alongside Portugal at the top of Group C, although the Europeans currently hold a narrow advantage on goal difference.
The Brazilians were good value for their win, secured by goals from Wilde (2), Neto and Vinicius, but they were made to work hard by a Japan side that has improved markedly since losing 12-1 in this same fixture four years ago. There never appeared any prospect of a similar scoreline this time around, and it took until the 14th minute – thanks to some stout defending and defiant goalkeeping from Hisamitsu Kawahara – for the Asians’ rearguard to be breached.
Even then, the goal had a touch of good fortune to it, with Wilde’s low right-foot shot taking a deflection off Kaoru Morioka that diverted it into the net. Injury was restricting the Brazilians’ star man, Falcao, to only fleeting appearances on the field, so it was left to others to share the goalscoring burden – and Neto was the next to step up.
Less than a minute of the second half had been played, in fact, when the defender snatched on some slack passing in the Japanese defence and rifled a right foot shot into the bottom right-hand corner. Brazil were growing in confidence by this stage, and within two minutes they were three up after the grounded Ari somehow managed to square the ball for Wilde to score his second of the match.
Vinicius made it 4-0 two minutes later, squeezing the ball home from a seemingly impossible angle, although Japan at least had the consolation of scoring the game’s best goal – a brilliant left-foot shot from Kotaro Inaba that flashed into the net off the inside of the post.
“I personally enjoyed the performance today. We did very well in defence and at the same time in attack. The result might give the impression that it was an easy game but actually it wasn’t as Japan made it very hard for us,” Brazil coach Marcos Sorato.
“Today we lost concentration for two or three minutes and you obviously can’t do that against a team like Brazil. Last week we played 40 concentrated minutes against Brazil in a friendly (drawing 3-3), while today we only played well for 37 minutes - and the three minutes gave Brazil the edge,” Japan coach Miguel Rodrigo.