The FIFA Futsal World Cup kicked off earlier this week. The ninth international championship of the indoor version of men’s association football takes place in Lithuania. Twenty-four teams, including defending champions Argentina, are currently in the group stage:
Here’s how the draw for the 2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup went! ??
Host country Lithuania will face Venezuela in the tournament opener on September 12.
– Queensland Football (@FootballQLD) June 2, 2021
Currently, Groups A and B have finished the game with Kazakhstan, Venezuela, the Russian national futsal team and Uzbekistan advancing to the round of 16. Costa Rica and Guatemala could also advance to the round of 16 depending on the results of the remaining matches in the CF groups which end in midweek.
Portugal in Group C and Argentina and IR Iran in Group F, all unbeaten, also qualified with one game short. Five-time winners, Brazil and Spain also won their first two group stage matches. They will have to wait for the results of their third match to confirm their place in the round of 16.
The full results of the group stage so far can be found using this connect.
Currently, the golden shoe is held by the Brazilian Ferrao, who has 6 goals, followed closely by the Argentinian Alan Brandi and the Japanese Arthur Oliveira with respectively 5 and 4 goals scored. The tournament goal so far has been courtesy of Russian Robinho:
Russian Robinho showed he has all the silky skills of his Brazilian namesake when Russia beat Egypt in the FIFA Futsal World Cup.
– SBS Sport (@SBSSport) September 16, 2021
Australia did not have a chance to qualify for this year’s tournament. The qualification process started in 2018 with the qualification for the AFC Futsal Championship. However, the reduction in FA funding for the Futsalroos led to their withdrawal from competition.
The Futsalroos had already participated in the FIFA Futsal World Cup on seven occasions, with the 2008 FIFA Futsal World Cup Brazil being the only other competition they had not qualified for. Their best ever performance was in 1989 when they finished 11th.
The funding cut was described at the time as a “necessary short-term measure” by the Australian Football Association. The Futsalroos have since returned to action, playing a series of friendlies in 2019 and taking part in the 2019 AFF Futsal Championship.
Additionally, Football Australia confirmed earlier this month the return of the National Futsal Championship in 2022. Queensland is set to host the 2022 Championship with Victoria hosting the 2023 matches.
The sport is known to help develop a number of good players, including former Futsalroo and current Socceroo and Celtic FC striker Tom Rogic. According to the latest FA National Participation Report, futsal has seen a 36% growth in participation since 2018.
While Australia is not participating in this World Cup, the nation is represented. Referee Ryan Shepheard has been selected as one of eight Asian Football Confederation futsal referees. Shepheard has been a FIFA futsal referee since 2009. He also refereed 32 A-League matches between 2009 and 2012.
Fans who want to see the rest of the competition can watch highlights from the opening rounds on SBS Sports and SPS On Demand. The semi-finals and the final will be broadcast free on SBS and broadcast simultaneously on SBS On Demand.
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