The final draw for the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016 takes place in Medellin on Thursday 19 May, an occasion when futsal fever will strengthen its grip on the city. The excitement will continue the following day, when the Colombian city hosts a world first: the debut appearance of the all-new FIFA Futsal Stars Team, who will be playing an international exhibition match against tournament hosts Colombia.
The team will be coached by Javier Lozano, the man who guided Spain to their two world titles, in 2000 and 2004, and will boast seven other world champions in its ranks. Among them will be Brazilian legend Falcao, who will be taking part in his fifth FIFA Futsal World Cup, and Spain’s Kike, a member of the fabled generation of Roja players who ended Brazil’s domination of the competition.
“It’s an honour to be called up for such an important event,” Falcao told FIFA.com. A world champion with Brazil in 2004 and 2008, the winner of two adidas Golden Balls and an adidas Golden Boot, and one of the most talented players futsal has ever seen, he added: “It’s important not just because of what it means to play with the legends of the sport, but because of what it means on a personal level. I’ve always wanted to play under a truly renowned coach like Lozano, and this is my big opportunity.”
Joining Falcao and Kike will be the Spanish trio Julio (a Futsal World Cup winner in 2000), Javi Sanchez (a 1996 finalist and 2000 champion) and Andreu (a 2004 winner), and the Brazilians Marquinho (victorious in 2008) and Jesus Claveria. Completing the star-studded line-up will be Argentina’s Diego Giustozzi and Paraguay’s Carlos Chilavert, both of whom will be taking charge of their respective national teams at Colombia 2016.
“I’m grateful to be on a list like that,” said Kike, in conversation with FIFA.com. Another two-time world champion and fourth on the all-time list of Futsal World Cup appearances, he added: “It’s the first time such a team has been selected, and it’s a boost for futsal too. It means a lot for the World Cup as well, with the Colombian fans getting the opportunity to watch several of the players who helped forge the sport before they get to see the game’s modern-day stars live and in the flesh.”
*High excitement, high expectations *
The all-star match will take place the day after the 24 qualifiers for Colombia 2016 learn their fate in the final draw, to be held at the Coliseo Ivan de Bedout, which will host 17 of the tournament’s 52 matches.
“It’s a dream for me to be welcoming some of the greatest players the game of futsal has ever seen, players who’ve never played together before. It’s also a dream for the whole of Colombia,” said Osmar Fonnegra, speaking to FIFA.com.
The current Cafeteros coach, who steered them to fourth place at Thailand 2012, went on to say: “Playing against the very best is an incredible experience and the highpoint of our preparations. The boys are really going to be motivated for it, and I hope we can learn something from all of them. And let’s hope that they can learn something about our customs, our people and our players.”
So what kind of spectacle can the fans look forward to? Answering that question was a smiling Kike: “Time moves on fast, even for me, and I’ve only been retired a couple of years.” The 38-year-old former defender added: “We’ll put on a good show, though. It’ll be fun to play alongside legends like Falcao and Marquinho. We had a fantastic sporting rivalry with them. And it’ll be great to remind people that we could play.”
Fonnegra echoed those views: “We’ll try not to show too much because we’ll be up against some of the coaches of our potential rivals,” he said with a smile. “That said, I’ve got no doubt it’ll be a good game. The fans will be the winners in the end. They’ll have the greatest futsal players right in front of them.”