Brazil 2008 will be the Czech Republic's second appearance at the FIFA Futsal World Cup finals. The East Europeans came through the first group stage in Chinese Taipei four years ago, but a second round record of three defeats, 13 goals conceded and only four scored against Spain, Portugal and Italy indicated that the Czechs had not yet achieved elite status in the world game. That impression was confirmed at the most recent European championships where the Czechs again finished the group stage without a point, conceding 17 goals and scoring only seven in defeats by Italy, Portugal and Romania.
By contrast, the Czechs' FIFA Futsal World Cup qualifying campaign was a much less erratic affair. Maximum points from group encounters with Azerbaijan, Finland and Armenia set up a play-off with old foes Romania. After a 1-1 stalemate in the home leg, the Czech Republic battled to a 2-2 draw in Romania and qualified for Brazil on the away goals rule.
The Czechs rate as dark horses going into their second FIFA Futsal World Cup finals. If coach Tomas Neumann's men can repeat the form they showed in qualifying, they could end up as one of the surprise packages of the tournament.
Facts and Figures
David Fric, David Filinger
The Czech qualifying recipe is easily summed up as tight defending and ruthless attacking. Only three goals against in three group games, and a further three conceded in the play-offs against Romania, were easily outweighed by a commendable 14 goals scored.
The numbers game
3 - David Fric and David Filinger were the biggest contributors to the Czechs earning a place at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Brazil 2008, each chipping in three goals on the road to South America.