Rocha: Brazil are determined to go out with a bang

  • Rocha was arguably Brazil’s best player in the semi-final defeat to Argentina

  • He states that Brazil are determined to beat Kazakhstan and finish third

  • The pivot hails Taynan and Pany

“Look,” Rocha told FIFA, pointing to his cut and battered legs. They were battle scars from a gruelling FIFA Futsal World Cup™ semi-final against Argentina – one in which the Brazil pivot dazzled but couldn’t prevent a devastating 2-1 loss. Rocha didn’t lick his emotional wounds for long. Brazil have a match for third place against Kazakhstan – and it’s one the man who helped Sporting win the UEFA Futsal Champions League in May, is desperate to win. The 26-year-old discusses that quest, his former team-mate Taynan, the Argentina-Portugal final and who deserves the adidas Golden Ball. What did you think of the game against Argentina? It was a really difficult game. We knew it would be. Argentina have a very good team that has been playing together for years. But we also knew we have an excellent team. We currently have the world’s best players. We knew it was life or death. It was attack against defence. Unfortunately we weren’t able to qualify. But we didn’t have much time to lament it. We have the match for third place and we really want to win it. Obviously our target was to come here and win the title, but who wouldn’t want to finish third at a World Cup?

On an individual level you turned in an excellent performance… I promised my family that I would give it my everything. In the qualifiers for this tournament, I was sent off against them. I felt that I owed my country something from this game. I was desperate to help Brazil win. I gave it my all mentally, physically. You played with Taynan at Sporting. What do you think of him? A magnificent player, one of the best in the world. I always tell him on WhatsApp that whatever team I’m playing for, I will always want him there as well. We had a great understanding. In a short space of time we managed to play superbly together. What do you think of Kazakhstan’s other two Brazilians? Higuita isn’t the Best Goalkeeper in the World five times for nothing. He’s an outstanding goalkeeper. You know when you play against Higuita every shot has to be perfect because he gets everything. Douglas is a superstar. He’s a great defender, marker, passer. He’s superb on the ball, scores goals, is really intelligent. He’s on the level of top Brazilian players, but unfortunately he plays for Kazakhstan. We can’t let our guard down for a second because he will punish you.

KAUNAS, LITHUANIA - SEPTEMBER 23: Douglas of Kazakhstan celebrates with Higuita after scoring their team's third goal during the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2021 Round of 16 match between Kazakhstan and Thailand at Kaunas Arena on September 23, 2021 in Kaunas, Lithuania. (Photo by Angel Martinez - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

How do you see the game playing out? Kazakhstan have a great team. It’s very hard to score against them. They have quality players who can win matches. We’re taking this game very seriously. Brazil want to go out with a bang. Who do you think will win the final? It saddens me to know Brazil won’t be there. I don’t know who will win but I’ll be cheering for Portugal. Brazil and Argentina have a huge rivalry – I simply can’t bring myself to support Argentina. And I also made a lot of great friends at Sporting. I want to see them happy and being crowned world champions. Who do you think deserves the Golden Ball? Pany. He’s had an incredible tournament. In the most important games, when Portugal have most needed him, he’s stepped up. I believe the winner will be someone in the final. I hope it’s Pany because he deserves it and he’s my friend.