CONCACAF futsal championship set to begin Thursday
The futsal championship for the Football Confederation will be decided 22-29 July in Heredia, Costa Rica - and in doing so, the field will be completed for the fourth FIFA Futsal World Championship.
The USA will be looking to defend their Confederation title at the Palacio de los Deportes in Heredia, Costa Rica, where the eight teams taking part will battle. The top two teams in the championship will qualify for the FIFA championship, also to be hosted by the Confederation later this year in Guatemala.
The USA were seeded directly into Group B as holders, while host Costa Rica was seeded into Group A. But the hosts appear to have the tougher draw, as Cuba (the other FC representative in the 1996 World Championship) were also drawn into Group A, along with Suriname and Nicaragua. The USA’s main competition in Group B will come from Mexico(third in the ’96 FC championship), while Netherlands Antilles and Puerto Rico fill out the group.
The top two teams in each group advance to the semifinals, to be played 27 July, with the winners in that match having the double pleasure of playing for the Confederation championship while knowing they’ve also clinched a spot in the FIFA World Futsal Championship.
The 14 other participants are already known. Guatemala will be the third FC entrant by virtue of hosting the event. Defending world champion Brazil also had a guaranteed spot, though they left no doubt of their pedigree by winning the CONMEBOL championship in May. Runner-up Argentina and third-placed Uruguay also earned places in the final tournament.
Five European countries won qualifying groups in January and February and gained berths: Portugal, Spain, Russia, Croatia and Netherlands. Iran defeated Kazakhstan in the Asian Confederation final; they’ll join third-placed Thailand in the championship. Australia won the Oceania tournament to qualify, while Egypt captured the first-ever African futsal championship to earn that confederation’s berth.