World Futsal Championship held in Belarus for first time

Colourful opening ceremony of 11th World Futsal Championship held at Minsk-Arena

No one left indifferent

Colourful opening ceremony of 11th World Futsal Championship held at Minsk-Arena

Rolando Alarcón Ríos, the President of the World Futsal Association, noted during the parade of championship participants, “On behalf of the World Futsal Association, I thank Belarus for organising the 11th Futsal World Championship. I’m pleasantly surprised by the attention given to futsal in your country. It’s very pleasant. I want to shake hands with each of those present. I believe, soon, Belarus and every country worldwide will have a great many people wishing to take up our sport.”

Vozhyk championship mascot
Vozhyk championship mascot
Photo: BELTA

The First Deputy President of the National Olympic Committee, Maxim Ryzhenkov, is confident that Belarus’ Futsal World Championship will be remembered as being among the best to date. He emphasises, “We received the right to hold the forum deservedly. Last year, our national team was named the best in Europe. This year, Minsk has gathered squads from countries far and wide, which is an interesting experience for us. I hope that the tournament will receive the highest estimation at international level.”

About 8,500 spectators gathered for the opening parade and show, which featured the championship mascot Vozhyk (hedgehog), who dropped down from under the roof of Minsk-Arena. A sound and light show dazzled fans, who were entertained by football freestyle, songs, dancing and competitions.

Bright opening ceremony of 11th World Futsal Championship, at Minsk-Arena
Photo: Alexander RUZHECHKA

The tournament opened with the Belarus-Brazil match, with the champion of Europe facing the double world champion! The two were equally matched, both fighting hard, until half time, with no goals scored. After the break, the Belarusians began to threaten their guests’ net but it was their rivals who were first to score, with Rafael sending a well placed kick in the 31st minute. Coach Sergey Safonov and the host of home fans at the Arena were soon delighted to see Dmitry Teslyuk send a ball past Brazil’s goalkeeper, Gilmar, to bring the score to 1:1. Vladislav Selyuk managed a second goal, to bring Belarus ultimate victory (2:1).

Bright opening ceremony of 11th World Futsal Championship, at Minsk-Arena
Photo: Alexander RUZHECHKA

Coach Safonov was in great demand after the match, surrounded by journalists and fans. He announced, “My guys were playing for the first time in such an atmosphere and in the presence of such a crowd. They showed real fighting spirit and gained victory. It’s always hard to open a tournament, especially at home, and against the Brazilians: the world champions!”

South Africa dictates

Belarus bows out of World Futsal Championship in quarterfinals

Paraguayans defeat Belarusian in class
Photo: BELTA

On their way to the quarterfinals, the Belarusian squad, under coach Sergey Safonov, defeated Brazil (2:1) in the opening match, and then lost to Uruguay (2:3). In the final match of their group stage, they faced Australia (which had lost to Uruguay and Brazil). Meanwhile, in the first match of the third round (A Group), Brazil was defeated by Uruguay. Accordingly, our team would have been satisfied with a draw but, in fact, managed another victory. In the 27th minute, Artem Yakubov opened the score, followed by another from Alexey Nalivaiko. By the end of the match, Lynch had taken a goal for the Australians but no more were forthcoming, leaving the final score at 2:1.

Belarus then played against Paraguay, putting up a worthy fight, but finally lost 0:4. After the final whistle head coach Sergey Safonov noted, “I’d like to thank the Paraguayan team for their great performance and for the fans who supported our squad during our matches.”

As they did four years ago, the Belarusian squad now leave the championship in the quarterfinal stage, having lost to Paraguay.

Final accord of championship

In final match at Minsk-Arena Columbia loses to its age-old rival, Paraguay — 4:0

Precious trophy in champions’ hands
Photo: BELTA

A spectacular struggle unfolded from the very first minutes, with both teams proving equal in their talent and in their desire to succeed. However, Paraguay proved luckier, achieving its first goal in the 25th minute, scored by Kamilo Gomez; 12 minutes later, Jorge Cuervo earned the second, and 25 seconds before halftime, Columbian Diego Abril added the third. The Columbians defended hard in the second half but, five minutes before the end of the match, Dimas Alejandro scored the fourth glorious goal.

The match echoed that of the 2011 World Championship final when Columbia defeated Paraguay at home — 8:2. The Columbians and Paraguayans now both hold three World Championship titles.

The captain of the Columbian team, Jhon Pinilla, praised the perfect organisation of the tournament. “This is a triumph for our team. We are grateful to your country for the championship’s organisation and are thankful to fans for so supporting our team. Columbia has good stadiums but we’ve been much impressed by Minsk-Arena. This is a unique building,” he said.

During the closing ceremony of the 11th World Championship, the ‘best attacker’ was named as Paraguay’s Dario Guerrero, scoring 10 goals while Columbian Oscar Garcia was named ‘best goalkeeper’.

The President of the World Futsal Association, Rolando Alarcón Rios, said that the event was the best in the tournament’s history. He declared, “I’d love to close our tournament by saying that the 11th World Futsal Championship has been the best to date.”

Great impression of hospitality

Australian squad much disappointed at failing to reach World Futsal Championship quarterfinals but delighted with its stay in Belarus, notes head coach Guillermo Costa

Photo: Alexander RUZHECHKA

Guillermo, 38, from Brazil, emphasises that his players trained hard for the tournament and were hopeful of reaching the play-offs, despite the strength of their rivals. Among the first squads to arrive in Minsk, they began training four days before the event began and were extremely pleased with the conditions and facilities on offer.

Mr. Costa underlines that, despite the Australians failing to repeat their 1988 success, when they last qualified for the quarterfinals, everyone had enjoyed their trip to Belarus, and the great hospitality of its citizens. He also added his recognition of Minsk as the current ‘capital of world diplomacy’, noting that the whole world is aware of the Minsk Agreements, relating to the settlement of problems in Ukraine.

The Brazilian coach was obliged to fly back immediately after the last match, most of his team stayed on, having flights booked for a later date (hoping to have gone through to the next round). The Australians have thus been able to gain closer acquaintance with Belarusians and our national culture and history. They particularly enjoyed a tour of Minsk and visited the Museum of Great Patriotic War History, between watching the decisive matches of the 11th World Futsal Championship.

Keen interest in game

Over 3,000 foreign fans arrived in Belarus to support their teams, with 25 foreign journalists covering events

Most fans arrived in Belarus to see not only the matches hosted by Minsk, but those in Borisov, Molodechno, Pinsk and Brest. The President of the World Futsal Association, Rolando Alarcón Rios, noted that the World Championship has returned to Europe after a 24-year break, having last been hosted here in 1991, in Italy. “We thank fans and the media for having supported us at this tournament,” Mr. Rios underlines.

By Dmitry Baranovsky
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