THE DAY REPLAYED – The four teams who will see us through to the final day of FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016 have been settled, as Russia and Iran were joined by Argentina and Portugal in the semi-finals.
Argentina’s place in the final four was never in doubt, as they rose through the gears against Egypt to see off the African side in some style. Five different goal-scorers got in on the act as La Albiceleste ensured there remains South American representation in the final stages, having seen Paraguay, Brazil and Colombia all fall in the knockout stage so far.
Portugal were forced to hold out against a resilient Azerbaijan side to line up a mouth-watering clash with Copa America holders in a decidedly more even affair in Cali. They were made to weather a late storm after Djo, Joao Matos and Ricardinho had registered for them, but navigate it they did as one of the pre-tournament favourites remain on course.
Argentina 5-0 Egypt
Azerbaijan 2-3 Portugal
Extroverts vs introverts
It wasn’t just Argentina and Egypt’s form on the day in Medellin that set them apart. Right from their arrivals at the Coliseo Ivan de Bedout the differences were stark. Argentina entered like a carnival, all smiles, songs and sound pouring from their dressing room pre-match, whereas Egypt remained quietly focussed as their coach talked them through their on-pitch warm-up. These attitudes seemed to transfer on the field, with Argentina expressive and open, while their opponents disciplined but ultimately playing within themselves. The final score ensured these trends were still present as they departed too, as Argentina raucously celebrated progression.
A wow moment
He has become well renowned for the jaw-dropping. People expect the astounding. Fans buy their tickets to see him shine. Following Falcao’s retirement, Ricardinho is arguably the biggest star in futsal and he ensured Portugal’s game was sprinkled with a dash of stardust. After Joao Matos’ drilled shot, Ricardinho flicked out a heel to guide it goalwards with the deftest of touches. The loud ‘woooooow’ emanating from the stands as it was replayed on the Coliseo el Pueblo’s giant screens indicated no one felt their pesos had been misspent.
28 – The combined number of years it has been since either of today’s victors graced a Futsal World Cup semi-final. Portugal last reached the final four at Guatemala 2000, eventually claiming a third-place finish, while four years later was Argentina’s last visit, coming a cropper at the hands of another Iberian side in the shape of Spain.
"It was important for us to score two goals before half-time so we could relax a bit in the second half; the past few games have been quite a stressful experience as we tried to score in vain for so long. As a coach, I suffer the losses more and I enjoy the wins less." Argentina coach Diego Giustozzi
"I expected the match to be like that. They have very strong, very tall players, while my players are very short. We have been really tired after that hard match against Italy, but the experience we have had here provides us with good lessons for the future.” Hesham Saleh, Egypt coach
"We faced one of the main contenders, who had great individual and collective qualities. The match was very tactical, and even though we did well, we were not able to capitalise on our opportunities and we made some things too easy for them. We had a good run, but we are not happy." Militinho, Azerbaijan coach.
"We never agreed with people who said Azerbaijan was weak. Today they showed they are an organised team, and very well coached. Today we helped each other, but from now on is a new stage for us. If I have to use one word to define Portugal's today's performance is 'together'. Jorge Braz, Portugal coach.
Tuesday 27 September
Iran-Russia (19:00, Medellin)