Costa Rica, Cuba snare CONCACAF berths in FIFA World Futsal Championship after dramatic semifinal victories
Costa Rica and Cuba will be the CONCACAF's representatives – along with host Guatemala – at the FIFA Futsal World Championship to be held later this year. Cuba stunned the USA with three goals in a five-minute span in the first half, then held on for a 4:2 victory, while Costa Rica used the support of a rabid crowd of better than 2,000 at the Palacio de los Deportes to defeat Mexico 3:2.
Undermanned Cuba scored three goals in a five-minute burst and qualified for the FIFA World Futsal Championship for the second consecutive time, defeating defending Futsal champion USA and denying the North Americans' bid for a third consecutive World Championship appearance.
Using essentially six field players and with backup goalkeeper Pedro Lopez pressed into service after a pair of players reportedly defected, Cuba surprised the USA with their pace and discipline on defense disrupted their rotation in attack.
The USA took the lead after just seven minutes, Matt Tirschmann ripping home a shot off a free kick from eight meters past an unsighted Lopez. But two minutes later, Ernesto Diaz equalized, a failed clearance falling to him in the arc. Juan Portal's great work in the corner before finding Camilo Kindelan alone at the back post made it 2:0 in the 12th minute, then Lazaro Martinez’s neat back post header off a kick-in made the score 3:0 on 14 minutes.
Then came the turning point of the match, less than two minutes into the second half. A hotly disputed penalty call saw Cuban coach Clemente Reinoso and other bench personnel sent off, with Sean Bowers six meters away from cutting the lead to one. With the Costa Rican turning their affection toward theCubans, Bowers' penalty was saved, and momentum again turned to Cuba.
Wes Wade’s goal cut the lead to 3:2 with six minutes left, but with three minutes left, U.S. coach Keith Tozer pulled his goalkeeper for a fifth attacker, and Martinez punished that move with a goal from midfield into the empty net in the 38th minute.
Costa Rica used the backing of the home crowd and survived a wild finish to defeat Mexico and qualify for the first time for the FIFA World Futsal Championship. The home side carried a 3:1 lead into the halftime interval, saw it cut to one on a double penalty, missed a six-meter penalty of their own, thensurvived a second double penalty to secure the win.
Costa Rica started out with all the play, Carlos Chaves in particular very dangerous, and he fittingly scored the first goal in the ninth minute, driving a high shot home from just inside the penalty arc. Juan Valverde then made it 2:0, Jose Carvajal’s shot on the turn hitting the post and coming out the other side, Valverde knocking the rebound into the back of the net.
Mexico cut the lead to one when Leonardo Morales took advantage of Costa Rica’s failure to clear a pair of long-range efforts, but Carvajal extended the lead back to two when he turned and ripped a low left-footed shot inside the far corner.
Mexico goalkeeper Abel Treppmann had a spectacular game, keeping his team in the match with a number of world class saves. But until Costa Rica accumulated their sixth foul of the half three minutes from time, Mexico failed to create any quality chances at the other end.
Raul Sidaui then rattled home a blast from the 10-meter spot to make the score 3:2, but just seconds later, when Mexico conceded a penalty, the narrow margin seemed short-lived – until Diego Solis put the effort wide. Inside the final two minutes, Mexico won another double penalty, but this time Sidaui’sshot was wide, and Costa Rica had booked a ticket to Guatemala.
USA – Cuba 2:4 (1:3)
R: Leroy BROWN (GUA)/Alex ALFARO (USA)1:0 7. TIRSCHMANN 7’; 1:1 8. DIAZ 9’; 1:2 7. KINDELAN 12’; 1:3 13. MARTINEZ 14’; 2:3 11.WADE 34’; 2:4 13. MARTINEZ 38’
Costa Rica – México 3:2 (3:1)R:
Carlo SERVINO (USA)/Carlos DEL CID (GUA)1:0 10. CHAVES 9’; 2:0 11. VALVERDE 15’; 2:1 8. MORALES 16’; 3:1 8. CARVAJAL 17’; 3:2 6.SIDAUI 37’ dbl pen