There were no surprises at the South American qualifiers for the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016. Brazil took the title that eluded them four years ago to advance to the world finals along with tournament regulars Argentina and Paraguay, who will be appearing on the big stage for the fourth time running. For their part, Uruguay were unable to nail down a finals place but showed they have plenty of potential for the future with an exciting new generation of players.
Held in the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion, the tournament produced a lot of exciting futsal and underlined how far the game has come in South America. With fellow regional heavyweights Colombia also sure of their place in the world finals as hosts, the four sides that represented the continent at Thailand 2012 will be going up against the world’s best again later this year.
In making it through, Brazil and Argentina maintained their perfect qualification records and are the only countries along with Spain to have contested every Futsal World Cup.* FIFA.com* rounds up the events at the South American qualifiers for Colombia 2016.
Five-time world champions Brazil travelled to Asuncion intent on regaining a title that evaded their grasp four years ago and on atoning for their failure to win the Copa America. Though shorn of the services of Falcao and Neto, A *Canarinha *strung together some superb results to re-establish their continental supremacy. In defeating Venezuela 2-1, Paraguay 1-0, Ecuador 14-0, Peru 6-0, Uruguay 4-1 and then Argentina 4-0 in the final, the Brazilians scored a handsome 31 goals and conceded just two, enjoying a memorable tournament that highlighted their status as one of the greatest sides in the history of the sport.
The other qualifiers *
Having set a high standard in recent times, winning the last South American qualifying competition and the 2015 Copa America, *Argentina were determined to maintain their domination of the continental scene. They came close to achieving their goal, playing some fine futsal before going down to Brazil in the final. After beating Uruguay 4-2, Chile 3-0, Colombia 2-0 and Bolivia 11-0, the Argentinians played out a 3-3 draw with Paraguay in the semis and edged the shoot-out 3-2 to secure their place at Colombia 2016. Reacting to that achievement, goalkeeper Nicolas Sarmiento said: “We’ve been working for this for two years and it’s a reward for a team that trains hard every day to be at its very best.”
Featuring half of the team that ran out at Thailand 2012, *Paraguay *showed once again why they are a force to be reckoned with in South American futsal, powering their way to third place to claim their ticket to the world finals. Held to a 2-2 draw by Peru, La Albirroja beat Venezuela 6-2, lost 1-0 to Brazil and saw off Ecuador 3-1 before overwhelming Uruguay 7-2 in the match for third place. “Our success is down to the team,” said Paraguay player Rodrigo Ayala afterwards. “We went out to win every game at this tournament and we respected all our opponents, but we also had the advantage of being the hosts and playing in front of our families and fans.”
154 - *the number of goals scored in the South American qualifying competition in Paraguay. Though fewer than the 185 registered four years ago, this year’s tournament produced 17 more goals than the 2008 qualifiers and two more than the 2003 competition.
What they said
“We achieved our objective, the main goal we had, which was to qualify for the World Cup. I think we deserve it because of all the work the boys put in and the sacrifices we’ve made in all these months of hard work. We lost just the one game [in open play], 1-0 to Brazil, the best side in the world, and we had a great tournament. Sadly, we went to penalties against Argentina and couldn’t quite manage it. The luck was on their side and they won. The boys did a fantastic job all the same and they deserve to qualify,” Paraguay coach Carlos Chilavert.
1) Brazil (champion)
Player of the tournament: Bateria (Brazil).