Argentina scrapped their way to a narrow win to kick off their FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016, beating debutants Kazakhstan 1-0.
The new boys began brightly, though Argentina were always the more controlled in possession. However, Kazakhstan’s foothold in the game was borne out of their unpredictable and outgoing goalkeeper Higuita.
In the land of his namesake Higuita was giving the crowd flashbacks to the eccentric goalkeeping they knew in the 1990’s: taking on the opposition, going on runs beyond halfway, firing off shots whenever he could – one of which whistled past the top corner – and generally doing anything but hang around in his area.
While this both delighted the crowd and regularly forced Argentina to drop deep – as they were all but constantly defending a power play – it was no surprise when this tactic led to a goal. Dispossessed on another mazy run, Alamiro Vaporaki punted forward to score.
After his mishap, Higuita was clearly operating on a tighter leash in the second period, a reality that impeded his side’s ability to pressurise the Argentinian goal. They did craft a couple of opportunities to try to level things up, but Nicolas Sarmiento in the Albiceleste goal was equal to them. But the best of which fell to Pavel Taku in the final minute, only to fluff his lines.
Kazakhstan will look to get their first points at a Futsal World Cup when they face Costa Rica on Tuesday, while Argentina will look to push for a knockout spot against Solomon Islands.