Monday, 5 September 2016 –
Kazakhstan finished third in the UEFA Futsal Championships in February, defeating highly-ranked Italy in the Quarter Finals before losing to perennial contenders Spain, so to suffer a narrow defeat against a European powerhouse was no disgrace in what was a much better performance by Rob Varela’s men.
Indeed, the Futsalroos can take great heart from the amount of opportunities that they created and with the passion and determination with which they defended, blocking a substantial number of shots with first-half goalkeeper Roberto Maiorana making a superb save to preserve the deadlock early on.
When Kazakhstan did break through after a chip to the far post saw Alexandr Dovgan arrive unmarked to power a downward header past Maiorana from close range. Within half a minute it was two-nil as Douglas, one of a number of naturalised Brazilians in the Kazakhstan team, swept home at the end of a sweet move that involved every player.
The match may have been a friendly but there was certainly plenty of feeling with the officials issuing a number of cards in a contest in which neither side took a backward step. Futsalroos had a number of penalty claims denied as Shervin Adeli was bundled over twice inside the penalty area, once in each half.
The Futsalroos scored in the second half when Jarrod Basger collected a pass and advanced forward, bursting between a pair of would-be challengers and rifling an unstoppable drive into the roof of the net giving Higuita, widely-regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, absolutely no chance.
The Futsalroos pushed for an equaliser towards the end but Kazakhstan, who used Higuita as a fifth court, held on to edge the victory.
“It was a much better performance from my point of view,” Head Coach Rob Varela commented afterwards. “After the defeat by Costa Rica I believe that a narrow loss against a side as good as Kazakhstan may well surprise a number of people. They will sit up and take notice of us as a team now.
“We are in the process of steadily building more momentum as the tournament edges ever closer and today there were aspects of the performance that I was really pleased with. I thought our movement was better and our passing game was much improved. We will continue to work hard over the next seven days with the intention of being at our maximum for the opening pool match on Sunday.”
The Futsalroos commence their FIFA Futsal World Cup campaign on Sunday 11th September (local time) against Mozambique. The match will be screened live on SBS on Monday 12th September with coverage commencing at 6.50am.