Brazil’s record at the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2008 is impressive to say the least. The only nation to win all four first round matches, the hosts have scored no fewer than 49 goals in the process. That statistic is even more impressive when you consider that coach Paulo de Oliveira’s team have conceded just once in four games, and are currently on a streak of 145 minutes without a goal against.
The Seleção open their second group-stage campaign on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro, but before the FIFA Futsal World Cup favourites set out for their new team base, one of their undisputed superstars took time out for a chat with FIFA.com. Schumacher, with seven goals and two assists to his name so far, reviewed events at the tournament to date, and cast an eye forward to the next stage.
"We’re keeping our feet firmly on the ground, but we’re very pleased with our four victories," he said. "We were superior to all the other teams, but we respect the way they performed against us. We’ve done the job we set out to do and we’re happy with that. Brazil are on course."
Schumacher and his team-mates have been inspired and moved by the fiery passion of the home support. The atmosphere has been nothing short of exhilarating at the hosts’ four games, watched by an average attendance of 7,300 at the Nilson Nelson Hall in Brasilia, and that is unlikely to change in Rio. "It’s all been wonderful up to now," said the burly No8. "Playing here at this Futsal World Cup in Brazil is really something else. ."
For all the burgeoning euphoria, Schumacher has not forgotten that he and his team-mates are still a long way off their ultimate target, claiming the FIFA Futsal World Cup trophy. Brazil face an extremely challenging second group stage, in which they will definitely come up against 2004 runners-up Italy. "Let no-one be in any doubt: we have some tough games in the second round, but that’s only normal," Schumacher warned. "If we’re serious about winning the trophy, we have to stay focused, and take it seriously right to the end of every match. Our most dangerous rivals are Spain, Russia, Argentina and Italy."
In one sense, the FIFA Futsal World Cup only really starts now for the Brazilians, as the Auriverdes have been operating on cruise control up to this point. Schumacher has a wary eye on his side’s forthcoming opponents, as the Inter Movistar ace is determined to lay hands on the FIFA Futsal World Cup Trophy at the third time of asking.
It’s my third Futsal World Cup, but playing in front of your home fans makes the whole thing very special. The support we’re getting from our fans could make the difference