Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam are believed to have almost no chance against Russia in their last-16 round match today of the Futsal World Cup. Coach Bruno Garcia, however, feels nothing is impossible.
Việt Nam qualified for the knock-out stage as one of four third-placed teams with the best result. The team have won only one match 4-2 against Guatemala before losing 1-7 to Paraguay and 0-2 to Italy.
Russia are the leaders of Group B with three wins. They beat Thailand 6-3, Egypt 6-1 and Cuba 7-1.
The Spanish coach, whose team are ranked No 39, knows his rivals really well and appreciates the calibre of the Russian team, who are ranked among the top three in the world.
“They have a lot of advantages. The players are strong in physique and technique. They are really good with one-on-one tactics, shots and passes. Meanwhile we are studying them to find their weak points, which I believe are not many, to make our plan,” Garcia wrote to Việt Nam News in an email.
It is the sixth World Cup for Russia, whose best result in this tournament is fourth place in Guatemala in 2000 and in Brazil in 2008.
The team are the European silver medalists at this year’s championship, losing to Spain in the final.
Russia are home to powerful players, including six from Gazprom-Ugra Yugorsk, which won the Europe Futsal Club Championship.
According to Garcia, the backbone of the Russian team comprised of four nationalised players from Brazil. They are goalkeeper Lobo Paradeda Gustavo, defender Romulo, winger Robinho and pivot Eder Lima.
Gustavo practiced futsal in Brazil before moving to Kazakhstan where he bagged 10 titles. He then came to Russia, became a Russian citizen and joined the national team.
Gustavo was one of three goalkeepers with the longest period of keeping a clean net. Gustavo’s record was 160 minutes at the last Cup in Thailand in 2012. One year later, he was voted best goalie of the year.
His teammate Lima was the previous World Cup’s Golden Boot winner with nine goals from five matches. He also scored the most goals at the Euro Futsal tournament in 2014 with eight goals and at the UEFA Futsal Cup 2015-16 with 13 goals.
In this World Cup, Lima has netted four goals in three matches in the qualification round.
Garcia has a plan to face this powerhouse.
“We will prepare our plan for this match combining the strategy against Italy, Paraguay and Guatemala. We need to be smart and play a tactical and psychological game,” the coach wrote.
“If we can keep the scores equal until the last five minutes of the game, like what we did against Italy, then we will have a chance to beat them because at that time Russia, the title favourites, will be under heavy pressure, not Việt Nam,” he added.
The Spaniard also worked hard to lift the spirits of his players.
“We need to believe in ourselves, playing the match with high intensity, tactical concentration and great spirit. We should learn from the match against Japan at the February AFC Championship in Uzbekistan when we got the (World Cup) ticket. This team is young and they need to learn from these lessons.”
Captain Nguyễn Bảo Quân encouraged his teammates prior to the knock-out game, saying that to dream was free and one should hope for a miracle at this World Cup.
“There is nothing to stop us when we are one of the best 16 teams. We all believe in Bruno (Garcia) and we are on the right path at the Colombian event. We will try our best against Russia and anything can happen,” he said.
Việt Nam have never played Russia. However, history still favours the Russians as the European side have never lost to any Asian team since they participated in their first World Cup in 1992. — VNS