Cuba National Team
In Costa Rica, after a process of over 4 years which began with its participation in the III Futsal World Championships in Spain, the Cuban team showed an enormous improvement in the area covered by the Football Confederation.
So we can say that Cuba's qualification for Guatemala 2000 was not an isolated fact. Its directors and players, who work under tight budgetary restrictions, stand out because of their permanent desire to do things properly. And it is no coincidence that the Cubans are successful in team sports. This was clearly demonstrated at the recent Olympic Games in Sydney.
The Cuban futsal team bases its game on a very solid group structure, with tough players and excellent physical preparation. Their strong points are their defensive positioning in the midfield, man-marking and taking extreme care with ball possession.
They plan out their tactics very thoroughly, and have a good range of set plays involving free kicks and corners.
Their players are all very gifted individually. Boris Saname and Lázaro Martínez, who are probably the best players on the team, possess excellent technique and finishing in front of the opponents' goal.
Cuba had a very good first phase, winning convincing victories over Surinam and Nicaragua after scoring lots of goals, losing by the slightest of margins to the host country and qualifying in second place in Group A, leaving them facing the dreaded USA team in the semi-finals.
The semi-final between Cuba and the USA was possibly the best game in the tournament. The latter was the clear favourite, but since on the pitch they play 5 against 5 with an impartial referee, this produced the biggest surprise of the knock-out round.
Cuba based its victory against the USA on three main factors:
Subsequently, in a match which was emotional, although it lacked the tension of the semi-final, they were beaten in the tournament final, for the second time, by the host country: Costa Rica.
One of the few tactical problems of the Cuban team is its speed in regaining defensive positions, as well as poor control of zone marking, with the former causing them problems when their opponents quickly turn around.
Undoubtedly the Cuban team will be a force to be reckoned with in the Guatemala 2000 World Championships, not just because of the innate attributes of their players, but because of their sporting ambition to burst out on the international scene and prove that carefully prepared work pays off in the long term.
To sum up, the Caribbean team is the product of a very good physical presence, skill, hours and hours of work on the pitch and that human spirit characteristic of the people from this country.