Russia's FIFA Futsal World Cup history began inauspiciously in 1992, when a poor defensive record of 16 goals conceded in three matches meant elimination at the group stage. A dramatic turnaround in Spain four years later saw the Russians claim an impressive third spot with a 3-2 success over neighbours Ukraine in the deciding match. Russia's most recent appearance on the world stage came at the 2000 finals in Guatemala, where they took fourth after a 4-2 defeat to Portugal in the third-place play-off. At the UEFA Futsal Championship in late 2007, a new generation picked up the thread of previous FIFA Futsal World Cup performances and finished third, gaining revenge over Portugal for a defeat at the same stage in 2000.
Russia were drawn in a group of three nations in qualifying for the FIFA Futsal World Cup Brazil 2008, but after France withdrew at the last minute, the berth in the next round was decided in a single eliminator against Serbia. The Russians duly won 3-2 to book a play-off spot with Belarus, one of the surprise packages at the group stage, but the experience of three appearances at the FIFA Futsal World Cup finals told in the end as the Russians eased to a 6-2 aggregate win. Much of the credit goes to keeper Pavel Stepanov for conceding only four goals in three matches.
Russia travel to Brazil looking to build on their impressive track record at global and continental level, including third- and fourth-place finishes at the FIFA Futsal World Cup finals in 1996 and 2000 respectively. After another podium finish at the most recent European championships, coach Oleg Ivanov's team are not to be underestimated when the world's elite gathers in South America.
Facts and figures
Konstantin Eremenko (1992-2000), Alexander Verizhnikov (1996-2000), Arkadiy Belyi (1996-2000), Temur Alekberov (1996-2000)
A record of just four goals conceded in three matches suggests Russia possess one of Europe's best defences.
The numbers game
4 and 3 - The final positions achieved by the Russians in their most recent FIFA Futsal World Cup appearances. The goal in Brazil is to build on that track record of success.