Fans around the world were eagerly awaiting the Official Draw for the FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012, which took place this Friday 24 August at the St. Regis Hotel in Bangkok, with guests including FIFA Executive Committee member Manilal Fernando and Local Organising Committee Chairman Suwat Lipatapallop.
Suttipong Tatpithakkul was the host of the ceremony, while the Official Draw was carried out by Jaime Yarza, FIFA’s Senior Manager of Futsal and Beach Soccer Competitions. Helping him were Thai boxer Somluck Kamsing, who won a gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, former Thai football international Kiatisuk ‘Zico’ Senamuang, as well as Natpimol Natthayalack and Warudthaya Wongchayapon who finished first and third respectively at the Miss Universe Thailand 2012 competition.
This is the seventh hosting of the event and 24 countries are involved this time around, split into six groups. Hosts Thailand are in Group A and will be hoping to overcome Costa Rica, Ukraine and Paraguay to make it through to the Round of 16.
Reigning FIFA Futsal World Cup winners Brazil were the first team drawn in Group C and will face experienced opponents from three different continents in the shape of Japan, Libya and Portugal. Spain meanwhile, who on paper are the team most likely to dent the South American title-holder’s chances of a repeat performance, find themselves in Group B alongside Iran, Panama and Morocco.
The tournament begins on 1 November with the final being held in Bangkok on 18 November. The Thai capital has three matchday venues, while Nakhon Ratchasima will also be hosting games.
The 24 participating teams were drawn in six groups of four, with the top two from each group going through to the Round of 16 along with the four best third-placed teams.
Group A: Thailand, Costa Rica, Ukraine, Paraguay
Group B: Spain, Iran, Panama, Morocco
Group C: Brazil, Japan, Libya, Portugal
Group D: Argentina, Mexico, Italy, Australia
Group E: Egypt, Serbia, Czech Republic, Kuwait
Group F: Russia, Solomon Islands, Guatemala, Colombia
The draw was almost complete when it was realised that two South American teams had been drawn together in Group C, which was not allowed as per the Draw regulations. Therefore, after a short break, the final four teams were re-drawn, ensuring that the only group with more than one team from the same continent – due to seven qualifiers coming from Europe – is Group E, which featuresCzech Republic and Serbia.
The new Futsal World Cup Trophy was also presented during the Official Draw. It has been designed and created by Thomas Fattorini Ltd. in Birmingham, England and comprises five gold and five silver rods which represent two teams of five players each. It is 48 centimetres high, weighs 4.6 kilogrammes and is made up of sterling silver, stainless steel, copper, lead and zinc.