Between 1989 and 2004, Australia took part in five consecutive FIFA Futsal World Cups. But the Futsalroos do not have fond memories of the tournament, after being eliminated at the group stage each time. Their record of two wins, one draw and 12 defeats, with 24 goals scored and 85 conceded in the process, hardly makes for happy reading. In 2008 a quarter-final defeat in the AFC Futsal Championship against Thailand meant they missed out the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Brazil later that year.
Eight years after their last appearance on the world futsal stage, coach Steven Knight's charges will be determined to make amends at Thailand 2012. It came as something of a surprise, although it was by no means undeserved, when Australia secured their passage to this year’s finals at the AFC showpiece in United Arab Emirates at the end of May. As hosts, Thailand were already guaranteed participation and when they reached the semi-finals of the AFC event, an extra qualifying space opened up. Thus, when Australia faced Kuwait in the quarter-finals, a draw at the end of normal time was enough for both teams to book their ticket to Thailand 2012.
Three of Australia’s 2004 crop of players are still part of the current team. The trio of goalkeeper Peter Spathis, striker Danny Ngalufe as well as Lachlan Wright provide Knight with a core of experience. Daniel Fogarty, the side’s top scorer at the AFC Futsal Championship and captain Gregory Giovenali are two further key members of the Futsalroos’ squad, which are made up entirely of amateurs. “It’s so exciting. An amateur side will play at the World Cup,” said Giovenali. “The whole team deserves credit, as does the coach, who worked wonders.”
Facts and figures
Chris Zeballos, Daniel Fogarty, Gregory Giovenali
Following respective 3-1 and 6-0 victories over Qatar and Korea Republic, as well as a 9-0 defeat against Iran, Australia reached the quarter-finals of the AFC Futsal Championship 2012, where they met Kuwait. A 2-2 draw at the end of the regulation playing time was enough for both teams to qualify for Thailand 2012 and, after scoring an extra-time winner, Australia progressed to the semi-finals where they lost 3-0 to Japan. They faced Iran again in the match for third place, only to be beaten 4-0.
The numbers game
8 - Over half of the 14-man squad that participated at the AFC Futsal Championship United Arab Emirates 2012 found the net. Daniel Fogarty was top scorer for Australia with three goals.