Comments from the Futsalroos coach after their 4th place in the AFC Futsal Championships
Dubai: Head coach Steven Knight has said Australia should be proud of his players’ achievements at the AFC Futsal Championship UAE 2012 as the Futsalroos impressive campaign ended with a hard-fought 4-0 loss to former champions Iran in Friday’s third-place playoff.
Knight’s charges exceeded expectations to reach the semi-finals of the tournament to claim a place in November’s FIFA Futsal World Cup and although they were denied a place in the final by Japan and a third-place finish that would have qualified them directly to the 2014 tournament, the amateur Aussies gave the two Asian futsal powerhouses a run for their money.
“I am happy to have played six games here, which is the first for Australian futsal, and very happy that we made it to the World Cup, which is another first for Australian futsal, so everyone back home should be proud of what the boys have achieved here,” Knight said following the 4-0 loss to Iran.
Australia were hammered 9-0 in the group stage by the same opponents who went into the match at the Al Wasl Stadium still smarting after their shock 5-4 defeat to Thailand in the semi-finals.
But any notions that there would be a repeat of the first meeting between the two sides were soon dispelled as Australia defended resolutely, with goalkeeper Peter Spathis a particular source of frustration, until the infinitely more experienced Iranians took advantage of the flagging Futsalroos with four unanswered goals in the last eight minutes.
“The better team won on the day and our opponents made the most of their opportunities late in the second half,” conceded Knight.
“We didn’t keep possession well in the second period. Our goalkeeper kept us in the game but there is only so long he can do that.
“It’s difficult for amateur players as they have to take unpaid leave from their work so we need to find a balance between work, family and the sport.”
F4A Aditors Note : additional comments below from Steve Knight that were not part of the original article :
“We did not keep posession and this is a credit to the Iranian team. Hopefully we will have a few more friendly games before the World Cup but a number of our players have work committments and will not be able to take the time to participate. We defended well until the end when we had to chase the game”