FIFA Futsal World Cup Brazil 2008

FIFA Futsal World Cup Brazil 2008

30 September - 19 October

FIFA Futsal World Cup 2008

Brazil beckons for UEFA hopefuls

Following last month's preliminary qualifying competition, 12 UEFA hopefuls went forward to a home and away play-off round to determine the six places available at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Brazil 2008.

World champions Spain comfortably overcame Bosnia and Herzegovina, booking their place in Brazil with a 13-1 aggregate victory. Kike starred for the Spanish with four goals in the tie.

Hungary had high hopes of adding to their sole FIFA Futsal World Cup finals appearance - 1989 in the Netherlands - after winning all their preliminary round matches with 24 goals for and just two against. However, the dream crumbled in a 6-5 play-off defeat to Ukraine who, building on thier qualification for finals of the 2007 UEFA Futsal Championship, narrowly sealed a third trip to the global futsal showdown.

Belarus impressively topped the powerful Romanians in the first round, but favourites Russia proved too strong in the eliminators. The Russians, fourth at the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2000 and third at the last European championship, won the away leg 5-1, before settling for a 1-1 draw in the return.

For their part, Romania came off second best to the Czech Republic in the closest of the play-off encounters. Following a 1-1 stalemate in the Czech town of Pardubice, the Czechs claimed a 2-2 draw in the return to qualify on the away-goals rule.

Portugal, fourth at the most recent European championship, fully lived up to their billing as favourites against Slovenia, winning 6-1 at home and 3-0 away to seal a third trip to the finals. The Iberians finished third at Guatemala 2000, but failed to survive the group stage in Chinese Taipei four years ago.

Finally, world runners-up Italy earned another shot at glory with a comfortable aggregate victory over Croatia.

Nine of the 20 starting berths at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Brazil 2008 have now been assigned. Alongside the six European contenders, hosts Brazil and African pair Libya and Egypt are also through.

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