Striker Chris Zeballos netted twice for the Qantas Futsalroos as they came from two goals down to earn a creditable 2-2 draw with Morocco in their latest FIFA Futsal World Cup warm-up match played in stifling conditions at the Grand Sport Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.
The in-form forward struck twice, once either side of half-time, to earn the Qantas Futsalroos a well-deserved share of the spoils against the North Africans, with the fitness of the Australian team shining through in a covered outdoor arena where temperatures soared and the lack of air conditioning meant that they had to battle the elements throughout.
The Moroccans showed class and flair in the opening nine minutes and opened up an two goal lead thanks to a fine finish from Jabrane Yahya and an unfortunate own goal from Zeballos who, tracking back saw a superb save from Peter Spathis bounce back off his knee and into the net.
The silky-skilled attacker though was to have the last laugh striking in the 10th and 42nd minutes of a match that was played over 50 minutes with no stop-clock.
“I came late into the team and yesterday when we played Panama I was a bit rusty and didn’t have the game that I wanted to, but today I played much better and getting the two goals has given me a lot of confidence heading into the match with Iran,” Zeballos said.
“I’m not far away from being a goal a game for Australia and I am trying to keep that record up. I’m about one or two goals behind, so I’m pretty proud of that.
“Every player has got their position and a job to do and I have been in the team for a few years now so if I can keep contributing with my goals and help the team go as far as we can in the World Cup then that would be great.”
The game was certainly another testing hit-out for the Qantas Futsalroos who had played similar opposition in Egypt earlier in the week with the teams from different Confederations presenting their own unique problems with Iran next on the agenda.
“Morocco are the type of team that are a tough challenge,” Zeballos admitted.
“They challenged Egypt in their qualifiers and Egypt beat us in a friendly the other day so they are a tough opposition. We’ve never played them before either so it was something new and exciting. Iran is just another level though. They are one of the top teams in the World.
We played them at the last AFC Championships and we lost 0-4 but we gave them a good game until the last five or six minutes and they took off from there. We do have confidence that we can match them and the other top teams.
“They call it a friendly match but it’s not always a friendly! You have to try and work on some of the things that you don’t get to do in training, such as playing at intensity and with a fast pace so tonight as a good hit-out.”
If Zeballos can keep firing in front of goal there’s no reason that the Qantas Futsalroos can’t make it through the group stages. And, whilst there is the pressure of playing for your country, Zeballos is honoured to be here in the green and gold.
“For me, after missing out on the World Cup four years ago, it’s been a dream to qualify for this one and represent my country and my family,” he said. “I have about ten family members coming over so I have to do them and the country proud.”
The Qantas Futsalroos next fixture is against Iran on 30th October, their last friendly match before the FIFA Futsal World Cup which begins on 2nd November.
Sunday 28th October 2012
Grand Sport Arena, Bangkok, Thailand
Qantas Futsalroos 2 (Chris Zeballos 10’, 42’)
Morocco 2 (Jabrane Yahya 3’, Chris Zeballos (og) 9’)