Portugal Win Futsal World Cup: HC Jorge Braz 1st Canadian To Win title
An epic clash of the titans closed out what most experts are calling the best Futsal World Cup of all time. European champions Portugal faced defending world champions Argentina in front of a raucous crowd at Zaligiris Arena in Kaunas, Lithuania.
Portugal’s road to the championship saw them finish on top of Group C with wins over Thailand and the Solomon Islands before drawing African champions, Morocco. In the knockout stages they eliminated a very difficult Serbian side and then defeated rivals Spain in the quarter-finals before finishing off Kazakhstan on PK’s in the semi-finals.
Argentina, considered by many to be tournament favourites, topped Group F after strong victories Serbia, Iran, and the United States. They defeated Paraguay in the round of 16 before eliminating Russia on penalties, and solidified their place in the final by beating arch-rivals Brazil.
The game was incredibly tight throughout the contest but a red card in the 13th minute to star Argentinean winger, Cristian Burruto, after he punched 6x World Futsal Player of the Year, Ricardinho, changed the dynamic.
Within seconds of Argentina returning to full strength Portugal would open the scoring after a splendid effort from Pany Varela. Despite a slew of scoring opportunities from both sides, that would remain the score going into halftime.
The intensity of the action would not relent throughout the remainder of the match and key chances were frequent but both goalkeepers, Sarmiento (ARG) and Bebe (POR) were absolute rocks in between the pipes.
It was Pany once again rising to the occasion in the 28th with a beautifully struck shot fed off a low lobbed corner from Ricardinho to double up Portugal’s lead.
Argentina would immediately answer 12 seconds later after Claudino struck a rocket that took a deflection off a Portuguese defender to make it a one goal game.
Argentina would have numerous chances including a breathtaking shot that hit the post with one second left on the clock but a repeat was not to be as Portugal won it’s first ever FIFA Futsal World Cup title and become only the 4th team to win it.
Portugal Head Coach Jorge Braz was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta for the first decade of his life. Braz is the current three time consecutive international futsal coach of the year and now simultaneously holds the European and world championships. He is the first Canadian to win the FIFA Futsal World Cup. He was also the first Canadian citizen to play or coach in a FIFA Futsal World Cup (the 1989 tournament in which Canada were invited to compete was then called the FIFA World Championship).