THE DAY REPLAYED – There was drama and intrigue aplenty on the final day of last-16 fixtures at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016. One game above all had everything a futsal fan could wish for. Azerbaijan’s clash with Thailand in Medellin had acrobatics, goals galore and suspense right through into extra time, before the European side held their nerve to progress and set up a meeting with Portugal in the next round.
The match in Bucaramanga was equally nail-biting. Argentina passed up a number of opportunities to wrap up victory as Ukraine relied on their impressive goalkeeper to force extra time. Even he was unable to stem the tide completely, however, and the Albiceleste eventually prevailed to set up a quarter-final clash with Egypt.
The North African outfit’s passage to the last eight was equally uncertain, as they played out the round’s third highly dramatic encounter against Italy. The Pharaohs led three times, only to be pegged back on each occasion. They did not lose hope, however, and after their keeper pulled off some crucial stops, Egypt netted the decisive goal of a hard-fought match in the second period of extra time.
FIFA.com looks back over the day’s highlights.
Thailand 8-13 Azerbaijan (AET)
Argentina 1-0 Ukraine (AET)
Italy 3-4 Egypt (AET)
Fair play above all
After the equaliser had been scored, there was no time to waste. The ball needed to be placed on the centre spot immediately to build on the positive feeling – or so Italy’s Murilo Ferreira thought as he levelled things up at 1-1. Unfortunately for him, his foot had become entangled in the net and he could not get free. Help was at hand, though. In spite of his frustration at conceding, Egypt captain Mizo stepped in and not only helped him free of the net but also lifted him back onto his feet in a commendable gesture of fair play.
A wake-up call to savour
In a phase of the game during which very little was going right for Thailand, goalkeeper Katawut Hankampa threw the ball out to the opposing penalty area. Azerbaijan defender Gallo attempted to head clear, only to jump right underneath it. Seizing on the mistake, Suphawut Thueanklang expertly brought the ball down with his right foot, turned towards goal and chipped it from just a few yards out with his left, over the head of the onrushing goalkeeper Rovshan Huseynli and into the net to pull the score back to 2-1. A goal of technical brilliance, it proved to be a wake-up call for Azerbaijan and would eventually set them on their way to victory.
Grit those teeth, Ievgen
Ukraine’s Ievgen Ivaniak had missed his side’s last group game due to suspension, but he returned for the last-16 clash and made a notable contribution, stopping almost everything Argentina had to throw at him with a series of incredible saves. As he dived for the ball at the end of the second half, an opponent’s boot caught him square on the finger. The 33-year-old did not let that stop him, however, and he was back between the sticks after a healthy dose of cold spray. He continued to shake his hand violently due to the pain but gritted his teeth and bravely carried on, although he was ultimately powerless to stop the South Americans going through.
21 – The game between Thailand and Azerbaijan was pulsating to say the least. The 21 goals scored made it the highest-scoring knockout-round match in Futsal World Cup history, beating the previous record held by Brazil’s last-16 game with Panama in 2012, which the former won 16-0. Thursday’s encounter at the Coliseo Ivan de Bedout in Medellin was 7-7 at the end of normal time, a scoreline just two goals short of the aforementioned Brazil-Panama clash, and one that equalled the highest-ever score draw in normal time in a World Cup game. The last 7-7 stalemate at the Futsal World Cup was in a group match between Spain and Russia in Hong Kong in 1992.
“It was an historic game, the best match of the World Cup so far. We carried on trying to keep things calm, but we weren’t able to. [But] Thailand eventually lost control of things and we capitalised on that.” Azerbaijan coach Miltinho
“I’d be 100% happy with the game – if we’d won it. My players absolutely wanted to be in the next round and they’re really frustrated now. That’s life, and that’s futsal. Life goes on and we’ll carry on working.” Ukraine coach Oleksandr Kosenko
Saturday 24 September (all times local)
Paraguay-Iran (15:30, Bucaramanga)
Russia-Spain (18:00, Cali)