Thais, Aussies do battle ahead of Asian finals

Thailand’s preparations for the FIFA Futsal World Cup have moved up a gear with morale-boosting back-to-back wins over Australia. Both sides were completing their final warm-up matches ahead of the 2012 AFC Futsal Championship in Dubai, and it was the Thais who enjoyed narrowly the better of the two encounters.

The Australians, known as the Futsalroos, made it tough for their opponents though, only losing out by the odd goals in seven on 18 May at the Suphaburi Indoor Stadium before going down 4-2 in another keenly contested encounter a couple of days later. For their coach, Steve Knight, the matches served a valuable purpose.

“I was impressed with how the players performed throughout,” he told the Football Federation Australia website. “[These matches] served their purpose in identifying areas we need to improve on before the tournament begins in Dubai. Although we matched with a team that I think will do well at the World Cup, we need to stay grounded and focus on our goal at the AFC Championships.”

The top four finishers at the AFC Futsal Championship will qualify for the FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012, and Australia will need to survive a tough-looking Group C, which features 10-time champions Iran, Korea Republic and debutants Qatar, against whom the Futsalroos will begin their campaign on 25 May.

Thailand, meanwhile – who are guaranteed a place at the world finals as hosts – will face up to UAE as well as the Central Asian duo of Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan in Group A.