The Czech players let out a roar in their changing room in preparation for their opening FIFA Futsal World Championship game against Thailand. That verbal expression of determination had the desired effect too, for after a nervous wait, the Europeans finally broke down a resolute Thai back line with two late goals to earn a hard-fought 2-1 victory.
Czech coach Michal Striz was visibly relieved: "My heartbeat is back to normal now. We were very nervous, but it was our first game ever at the World Championship. We wasted a lot of chances, especially at the beginning of the second half. We have to improve on that."
The Czechs attempted to impose their own style on the game from the outset, but the compact and agile Thailand players, constantly encouraged by their coach Glaucio de Oliveira, initially made life difficult for Striz's team. It was Thailand's Munjarern who had the first shot on goal, but Czech goalkeeper Jan Klima, the tallest player at the tournament, was alert to the danger (8'). Czech Republic struggled to find a weakness in the well-organised Thai defence in the opening stages. Kamenicky tried with a free-kick only to see his effort blocked (10').
Sluka was thwarted by the well-positioned Thai goalkeeper Somkid Chuenta, who impressed again moments later when he kept out a powerful Kamenicky shot with an outstretched right hand (10'). The Czechs were now in the ascendancy but could not convert their dominance into goals.
The deadlock was broken when a foul from goalkeeper Klima on Nueangkord saw referee Valiente point to the penalty spot without hesitation. Innui made no mistake from 6 metres, giving the ecstatic Thais the lead (1-0, 15'. The Asians suddenly had the momentum, Janta almost catching Klima by surprise, but the goalkeeper just managed to recover having ventured off his line (16').
The eye-catching Janta embarked on another solo run before laying the ball on for Nueangkord who had made an advanced run. Klima could only claim the ball at the second attempt (19'). Mares went close in the final minute with a back-heeled effort and Issarasuwipakorn was twice unlucky, hitting the crossbar on one occasion and being thwarted by Klima on the other (20'). Czech Republic missed their best chance to equalise from the 10-metre penalty spot.
The match continued in the same vein after the break: Czech Republic appeared the stronger team but rarely penetrated the Thai back line. Slama squandered yet another chance from a good position, as Chuenta's reactions proved their worth (24'). Klima needed all of his experience to keep out a Janta effort before denying Munjarern just seconds later (29'). The match now resembled a blow-for-blow boxing match as Czech coach Michal Striz berated his players from the touch line.
Rajnoch was denied from close range by Chuenta (31') before Czech Republic, sacrificing defence for all-out attack, finally made the breakthrough, an unstoppable drive from Kamenicky restoring parity (1-1, 34'). The relief in the Czech camp turned to euphoria when Mares put his side ahead just seconds later (2-1, 35'). Thailand were reduced to desperate measures, taking off their goalkeeper and using Janta as their fifth outfield player in an attempt to turn the tide, but the late equaliser eluded them.
Thailand's coach was devastated after the defeat: "I am very unhappy. The result is unfair, but I am very happy with the team's performance."