The FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012 is underway. And there was no shortage of excitement or goals at the start of the seventh edition of the tournament being held in Bangkok and Nahkon Ratchasima, where for the first time 24 teams will compete for superiority.
Having endured several days of rain, the sun came out over the Thai capital on 1 November in time for the competition opening. Spectators in both stadiums were treated to high-tempo encounters and witnessed the net bulge on numerous occasions. Hosts Thailand got off to the perfect start with a win, while Portugal and defending champions Brazil also recorded victories. Ukraine and Paraguay, for their part, shared the points in a thrilling 3-3 draw.
Ukraine 3-3 Paraguay
Thailand 3-1 Costa Rica
Libya 1-5 Portugal
Brazil 4-1 Japan
Goal of the day
Thailand - Costa Rica, 2-0, Suphawut Thueanklang, 28’ 04”
Suphawut Thueanklang’s strike to put Thailand 2-0 up was not only the decisive goal of the match, it was also greeted with wild celebrations in the stands. Goalkeeper Prakit Dankhunthod threw the ball towards the forward, who deftly brought it down on the halfway line with his right foot, before spinning around and unleashing an unstoppable left-footed shot past Costa Rica custodian Jairo Toruno.
Family get-togethers are always special occasions and futsal is no exception. Paraguay’s Enmanuel Ayala netted a hat-trick against Ukraine and his twin brother Gabriel provided the assist for the first of them. However, their joy was short-lived, as the goalscorer was later sent off for a second bookable offence.
Futsal is widely known for its carnival atmosphere and fans were quick to do that reputation justice. The vociferous home support tirelessly cheered on the Thai team in their opener in Bangkok’s Huamark Stadium. The decibel levels were equally high further north in Korat, where reigning champions Brazil dazzled onlookers with their skilful team moves. The Japanese fans added extra colour to the proceedings with their blue balloons, contributing to a successful tournament start.
The tight nature of indoor games, coupled with strong tackles and the fiery atmosphere often make futsal matches heated affairs. A female influence can therefore sometimes have a calming effect on the players. And so it was in the fixture between Thailand and Costa Rica, when a female referee was in charge for the first time at a FIFA Futsal World Cup. Not only did Brazilian Renata Leite oversee the game impeccably alongside her male colleagues, her outing in Bangkok was also one for the futsal history books.
Stat of the day
3 - Portugal’s Cardinal and Paraguay’s Enmanuel Ayala arrived in Thailand with their shooting boots on, each netting three times in their respective country’s opening game. The duo jointly lead the top scorers' chart at the tournament.
“I hope this victory will motivate our fans to come to our next game and support us again. Futsal has a future in Thailand and maybe our supporters can be our sixth man out on the court,” Victor Hermans, Thailand coach.
The next games
Friday, 2. November 2012 (all times in local time)
Panama – Morocco, 19:00
Spain – Iran, 21:00
Italy – Australia, 17:00
Argentina – Mexico, 19:00