World Cup : Round of 16 beckons for Qantas Futsalroos

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The Qantas Futsalroos are just 40 minutes away from a place in the last sixteen at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012 following their 3-1 win over Mexico in Group D.

Standing in the way of what would be a huge achievement for the amateur squad are Argentina with the final match of the group stages scheduled for Thursday evening with everything on the line.

A victory would ensure that the Qantas Futsalroos make the knockout stages but a draw or narrow defeat would leave them perusing the other groups and relying on results elsewhere to qualify as one of the best third placed teams.

The Albiceleste meanwhile are in exactly the same boat as the Qantas Futsalroos with their 2-3 defeat to Italy leaving them also on three points in the standings, but with a markedly better goal difference thanks to a convincing 5-1 success over Mexico in their opening match.

Qantas Futsalroos skipper Greg Giovenali, scorer of the third goal in the win over Mexico, is adamant that his team have what it takes to beat Argentina and secure an unprecedented qualification from the group stages.

“We know it will be tough. We respect everyone but we fear no-one so we will go into the game trying to get the result and get second place in the group,” Giovenali said.

“The win over Mexico has given the team the belief that we can win games and that we can get a result even when we go behind so it was good for us to come from behind and get the points that we deserved.”

After toiling without success in the opening 20 minutes, the Qantas Futsalroos finally found a way through the packed Mexican defence with a scorcher from Tobias Seeto, followed by a tap-in from Aaron Cimitile and Giovenali’s own exocet of a strike.

There was little doubt in the mind of the Australian captain that his team could get back into the contest having dominated possession in the opening stanza.

“We knew the goal was coming, it was just a matter of time,” Giovenali confirmed.

“They were defending quite well and making it tough for us but once Toby [Seeto] scored a bomb from a corner it opened the game up as they had to come and attack us instead of just sitting back so that helped us.

“We just need to worry about our game, focus on our defence and try and tighten up a bit. We conceded a few too many against Italy so we will keep our defence tight and then try and make them pay when we get our chances.

“Since we have been here our aim has been to get better each game and slowly progress and we have done that. Italy was a bit of a set-back in terms of the results but since day one we have come a long way and we still have a long way to go.”

One thing is for sure, the Qantas Futsalroos will not be lacking for support. It’s been evident throughout the opening group stages that the Australian supporters have been out in numbers bringing their usual unique style to following their team.

Outside of the hosts Thailand, Australia can arguably claim the largest and loudest contingent of spectators at the FIFA Futsal World Cup, something that is not lost on the players.

“I can’t thank our supporters enough,” Giovenali said.

“Every game we have the biggest crowd and the loudest and in the Mexican game they were singing all the way through and it lifted you as a player.

“When we scored I just turned to the crowd and to see around 100 or so Australians going nuts, it just gives you a massive boost and after the first goal we realised just how much it actually meant to them and that gave us the energy to push on and go for the victory.”

Qantas Futsalroos head coach Steven Knight echoed the thoughts of his on-field leader.

“Our support here has been terrific in both matches,” Knight commented.

“To have that kind of backing certainly lifts the whole team and gives you a real buzz of anticipation. The fans here have made lots of sacrifices in terms of time and money to come and support the boys, so to be able to reward them with a performance like we did against Mexico was very pleasing. Their backing could well help us get past Argentina as well.”

The Argentinean test though is certainly one for which Knight will be well prepared in the knowledge that his team are potentially one match away from qualification for the second round for the very first time since the competition came under the auspices of FIFA back in 1989.

“The win against Mexico was only our third ever win at official FIFA Futsal World Cup competitions, so to get a result against Argentina would be superb,” Knight said.

“We are well aware that they will pose a tough challenge for us. We have seen both their matches so far and I have been impressed with the way they maintain possession and craft chances. However, we have some ideas of our own on how to break down their patient build-up play and turn that to our advantage.

“It will be a test of character, that’s for sure. We will need to play with determination, poise and ruthlessness and take any opportunities that come our way whilst limiting theirs.

“If we can do that, and I truly believe that in this group of players we have the potential to do that, then we can make history and get the result that we need.”

The Qantas Futsalroos final Group D match against Argentina will be screened live on SBS TWO on Thursday 8th November from 8.55pm AEDT.

Upcoming Match Details
FIFA Futsal World Cup – Group D
Qantas Futsalroos v Argentina

Thursday, 8 November 2012
Nimibutr Indoor Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand
Kick-Off: 5:00pm local (9:00pm AEDT)
LIVE on SBS TWO from 8.55pm AEDT

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