FIFA award winner Cristiano has emerged as Australia’s marquee superstar for futsal.
The Brazilian pied piper of the popular indoor FIFA-sanctioned five-a-side game will represent SA for the first time at the Football Federation Australia national championships in Canberra in January.
Cristiano will also coach SA’s under 13 side at the championships.
“I am so happy to represent the state,” Cristiano said.
“But we will have competition NSW has some good players but I will be playing upfront and I have to make sure I score a lot of goals.”
The former Adelaide United striker scored an accolade from FIFA when he won the 2008 Club World Cup goal of the competition for the Reds but after searching for a new contract when he was released from the club Honduran football is where he saw the very dark side of the game.
Cristiano, 32, said he feared Honduran crime bosses and street gangs would target his family after kidnappers tormented a teammate before the Brazilian resettled in Adelaide after signing for CD Olimpia.
Now working for Football Federation SA, Cristiano is spreading the futsal gospel across SA.
Cristiano believes futsal is imperative for the growth of young outdoor soccer players given the game forces participants to learn the technique of the game under pressure.
“In Brazil I used to play a lot of futsal at school, lunchtime, before school and after school,” he said.
“It’s a big game over there, the more kids play the better it is for them.
“Futsal makes kids build their skills a lot quicker than outdoor.
“It’s faster, you have to think quickly and you get so many more touches,when kids are young futsal is the best thing for skills.”
SA coach Tony LaScala is banking on Cristiano’s firepower after the side scored just four times at the championships this year.
LaScala says SA is much stronger than the one which finished bottom of the group without a point in six matches.
“We didn’t have the quality last time,” LaScala said.
“But we’ve got a brand new side only three players from the last campaign and we should be very competitive.”
SA futsal squad: Alex Payne, Simon Ortlepp, Jake LaScala, Ross Osmon, John Fusco, Olumide Adisa, Cristiano, Edward Cooper, Jason Abela, Jai Pullinen, Andres, Obieglo, David Joncheff, Aaron Noble: Coach Tony LaScala – Manager: Robert Pepicelli