At around 4pm in Taipei City this Sunday, Alessandro Nuccorini will be taking his place on the bench at the NTU for the very last time at the FIFA Futsal World Championships Chinese Taipei 2004. For at least forty minutes, he will be urging his players to give everything they have, with a world title the potential reward. And even though he has been mischievously claiming Spain have the edge in the run-up, rest assured he has a few tricks up his sleeve.
FIFA.com: Alessandro, how do you feel about facing Spain in Sunday's final?
Alessandro Nuccorini: I've been saying for a long time that, in my opinion, Spain are by far the favourites. Even more so now they've seen off Brazil. We played them in the second round so we know just how good they are. They're the reigning world champions until somebody beats them, they're stronger than us in a lot of areas and they have a full squad to pick from. We'll be without Vicentini and despite the fact we've beaten Spain the last two times we faced them, I imagine they'll be desperate to make up for those losses. Plus my players are all very tired but, whatever happens, I can assure you they'll be giving it their all.
Do you think it's an advantage that you've already met Spain in this FIFA Futsal World Championships Chinese Taipei 2004?
Quite the opposite, actually. We just watched them beat Brazil, and that speaks for itself. For us, it's almost a miracle that we're still here. And I think it's too much to ask for two miracles in such a short space of time.
Were you expecting a Spain-Italy final?
Even though I would rate the four teams in the semi-finals as the best in the competition, I can't help thinking that Portugal and the Ukraine also had a serious chance of going all the way. So those semi-finals really were tight and it was impossible to say who would make it through.
Victory for your team in the final would be an excellent springboard for futsal in Italy, wouldn't it?
One of our objectives when we came here was to promote futsal in Italy. And what better way to do that than to have a successful tournament? Seeing the people back home already taking an interest and enjoying our sport is very satisfying for me, but it's true that victory on Sunday would be the best advertisement of all.
As we look forward to a 100% European final, do you think South-American futsal is in decline?
I think it's just a coincidence, because both the semi-finals were extremely close. It would be unfair to say that South-American teams are now weaker than European ones. Personally, I love to see all the teams improving. The Asian sides are a great example, and the more level the playing field, the better it is for futsal in general.
How would you describe the difference in style between the European and South-American sides?
I'd say they are two completely different cultures. But there are no absolute truths in sport: you can never be sure how a team will play. I just think it's interesting for futsal to have all these different cultures interacting.
What will you be saying to your players before the game?
It's hard to get players to switch their focus from one match to the next so quickly. We know Spain are stronger and we know they're the favourites. But, believe me, we'll be giving it our best shot.
Before the semi-finals, the Spanish said they would prefer to meet Italy if they made it to the final…
I understand that perfectly. If you look at the two games we played against them recently, I can see why they would want to meet us again. They're out for revenge. And to be honest, I would have preferred playing Brazil, a team we don't have a recent history with and, above all, a team we've never beaten. But we'll approach this final in the same way we've approached all seven games we've played in this World Championship.
What do you see deciding the outcome on Sunday?
Fitness will be the most important factor, without a doubt. I don't think Spain had to exert themselves until the second round, whereas we've practically played seven finals already. So I'm sure Javier Lozano's team are in better shape than mine. But like I was saying before, we'll be giving every ounce of energy we have left. It'll be worth it!