"We knew that we had more to lose than to win in this match, but we weren't expecting what happened to Matias (Lucuix). That really affected us. He's a friend first and foremost as well as being a team-mate. There's no way I was expecting to lose our top player for the rest of the World Cup. Even the fact that we qualified was no consolation."
Speaking to FIFA.com, winger Hernan Garcias captured the sombre mood within the Argentinean camp after their match against Australia in Group D of the FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012. After Lucuix fractured his tibia and fibula, the rest of the squad were in no mood to celebrate the 7-1 victory which saw them through to the Round of 16.
Garcias nevertheless managed to remain objective, no doubt thanks to the enormous experience that the 34-year-old, who plays domestic futsal for Asti in Italy, has gleaned over four FIFA Futsal World Cups. "We knew that the game was ours for the taking and that's no doubt why we didn't go into it in the right frame of mind," he said in what was a very the lucid analysis of the match.
"Sure, we scored a lot of goals, but even despite what happened, the match should have been a lot more straightforward. In any case, I'm sure we won't make the same mistake again," said the man who notched La Albiceleste's fifth goal.
The lads in the squad this time around are better than we were at the same age, so this generation really has a bright future ahead of it.
"What happened" referred not only to the injury to Lucuix but also the fact that Argentina will be without Cristian Borruto for their Round of 16 match against Serbia after the striker picked up a second yellow card against the Futsalroos. "That's another big hole we'll have to fill," said Garcias. "Cristian is one of the best forwards in the world and he would have been ideal for us against a defence that can be a little slow at times. But we're not a two-man squad. We need to pull together and make the most of the strengths we have within the group."
"We know them pretty well," said the Argentinean No8 of the Serbians. "They're very physical, like all European teams, and it's all well and good watching them and saying that; when you actually play them, it's a different matter. You soon realise just how tough they are when you get on the pitch with them, so we'll have to steer clear of any contact that can be avoided."
The wily winger also thinks that mental preparation will play a big role. "It's the first time that we're playing a round of 16 match. Previously, the second group phase gave us a little margin for error and meant that we could always make up for a bad match. That's no longer the case, and the new format will create a different kind of tension, and this is where experienced players will have to step up to the plate."
The only other players in Thailand who are at their fourth FIFA Futsal World Cup are similarly big names within the sport, namely Falcao, Franklin, Joao Bendito and Kike. Garcias' goal against Australia meant that he became the third player to score at four different World Cups, putting him alongside legends Fininho and Manoel Tobias.
"Each World Cup has a different atmosphere," said Garcias, who despite being a Boca Juniors supporter joined rivals River Plate before going to play in the Italian futsal championship. "The difference for me is that before, I used to pay a lot less attention to things. Nowadays my responsibilities are different, but the pride in the shirt is the same."
When asked to compare squads from different years, Garcias has no hesitation. "This team is obviously not as strong as the 2008 one because back then, we had incredible competition. But the lads in the squad this time around are better than we were at the same age, so this generation really has a bright future ahead of it."
To conclude the interview, we asked Garcias about how he saw the rest of the tournament panning out. "There's not a lot to say," he said. "Argentina are coming into form and we could beat anyone on any given day but also lose against anyone. At the moment, we can't look any further than the match against Serbia."