Futsalroos - A Brief History
The indoor version of the football, has been played in Australia since 1972 and has steadily grown as a competitive sport. Players require a different set of skills compared to those of their outfield counterparts, demanding quick reflexes, fast thinking, and pinpoint passing and is an exciting game for children as well as adults. The FIFA Futsal World Championship is the ultimate level for any Futsal player to play and Australia, despite its players all being part-time, was able to qualify for the first five championships held. They missed out in a tough qualification process for Brazil 2008 but were back again four years later, claiming fourth spot in the AFC Asian Cup event and earning their ticket to the 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Thailand.
FIFA Futsal World Cup History
Before missing out on the 2008 event in Brazil, Australia had competed at the first five FIFA Futsal World Championships, of which the inaugural tournament was staged in 1989 in the Netherlands. However before FIFA officially came on board, there was three Indoor World Cup-s, under the banner of the FIFUSA game, played. While Australia did not play in the opening tournament in 1982, they participated in the 1985 tournament, finishing 8th and then hosted the 1988 tournament in the cities of Melbourne, Geelong, Canberra, Wollongong plus the town of Moe in Victoria.
Brazil was the undoubted master of the sport and went into the 1988 tournament, unbeaten for 31 years and unbackable favourites to win a third straight crown. Australia was placed in a group with Uruguay, Italy and Hungary, finishing second behind the very strong Uruguay team. Australia beat Italy 12-0 in its opening game and Hungary 16-0, but lost 6-1 to the Uruguayans. The second round however was going to prove difficult, up against three South American teams in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Paraguay defeated Australia 8-1 and that was followed by a 5-0 loss to Brazil. However Australia ended its tournament with a 7-3 win over Argentina to finish in 6th place. Paraguay eventually went on to win the final 2-1 against Brazil, its first ever loss.
With FIFA eventually deciding to bring the ‘Indoor- version under its wing, it didn-t take long for the first FIFA Futsal World Championship to take place. The Oceania Football Confederation receiving one automatic place to the finals, Australia, as one of the few countries in the Confederation to play ‘Indoor-, dominated the qualifiers on most occasions.
At the first two FIFA tournaments, Australia proved very competitive, but as the world moved on with its development and ultimately became more professional in its approach to the sport, Australia-s development became stagnant, mainly due to a lack of funding, and results at the next FIFA tournaments reflected this, with nine defeats in total and mostly by big margins.
1989 in The Netherlands was the closest Australia came to qualifying for the next round of a FIFA Futsal World Championship. They started off with a terrific 1-1 draw against the strong USA team, who eventually finished in 3rd place, to give them confidence for the do-or-die game against Italy. Unfortunately the match against the Italians proved too much with the Italians winning 6-1. Australia was able to finish their group matches on a high though seeing off the challenge of Zimbabwe (4-1) in the last match.
Four years later, the 1992 tournament held in Hong Kong saw Australia face a tough task to qualify, with defending champions Brazil in its group. Unsurprisingly, they lost the opening game to Brazil 3-0 and in the game that was to decide the second placed team, the ‘Indooroos- as they were then known stumbled to a 2-1 defeat against Belgium. They ended the tournament with a highly entertaining 8-6 win over Costa Rica to again finish 3rd in the group. However that win proved the last by an Australian team at the World Championships, with big defeats in all games, except one at the 1996, 2000 and 2004 events.
In 1996 Australia was grouped with host nation Spain, Ukraine and Egypt in what looked to be a tough proposition. It certainly proved that way as well with Ukraine handing the Australians an 11-2 hiding, Egypt winning their group game 8-2 and Spain, who ended up as runner-s-up, were too classy for the amateurs with a 7-0 success.
It was a similar story four years later in Guatemala. Having breezed through the Oceania qualification process the Futsalroos again found the competition too hot to handle. Costa Rica started the rot with a 6-2 win over the travelling Aussies in the opening match and heavy further heavy defeats to Croatia (0-6) and Russia (1-11) ended any lingering hopes of an unlikely progression from the group.
Again, in 2004, the Futsalroos made light work of their qualification and headed to Chinese Taipei hopeful that they could improve on their poor record at the event. However, they had the misfortune to be grouped with Brazil and an opening round 0-10 loss to the multiple World Champions was hardly the ideal start. Crucially they lost again next time out as the Czech Republic came out 0-5 winners. A 3-2 loss against Thailand in their final game of the 2004 tournament was looked at positively considering the move to Asia, with the Thais rated fairly highly in the region.
The switch to the AFC shortly afterwards certainly helped the Futsalroos as it was becoming apparent that a lack of really testing fixtures was damaging their development as a Futsal nation. The change in environment certainly upped the ante in terms of quality and the Futsalroos were to pay the price as they missed out on qualification for the 2008 World Cup in Brazil. They learned their lessons though and in the intervening four years built a program that was good enough to see them through the 2012 qualifiers and earn their place in Thailand.
FIFA Futsal World Championships - Overall Record (Before Thailand 2012) 5 appearances - 15 matches - 2 wins - 1 draw - 12 losses 1989 - The Netherlands - 3rd in group 1992 - Hong Kong - 3rd in group 1996 - Spain - 4th in group 2000 - Guatemala - 4th in group 2004 - Chinese Taipei - 4th in group 2008 - Did not Qualify 2012 - Thailand
AFC Futsal Championship History
If there is one national team that will welcome the move to the Asian Football Confederation more than anybody else it-s the Qantas Futsalroos. The indoor version of the game is hugely popular in Asia and the increased competition will ultimately be an enormous boost for the sport that has often struggled compared to its outdoor counterparts.
Since its disappointing performance at the 2004 FIFA Futsal World Championship, the Qantas Futsalroos had been in hibernation, but the move to the AFC saw them play in the yearly AFC Futsal Championship qualifying for its first championship in 2006, causing a few heads turn in the process. Facing a tough qualifying group that included Korea Republic and Hong Kong, they beat both teams to top the group and win through to the finals which were played in Uzbekistan. An opening defeat to Kyrgyzstan put the Futsalroos up against it from the outset and despite wins against Kuwait and Lebanon they were knocked out in the group stage, victims of an unfortunate rule that meant there was no quarter finals played with only the group winners progressing to the semi-final stage.
Qualification for the 2007 event in Japan followed and a creditable 3-3 draw with Kyrgyzstan plus an outstanding 3-1 win over South Korea meant that a narrow 1-0 loss to Turkmenistan mattered little as Australia made the Quarter Finals. Perennial Asian powerhouse Iran proved a step too far though defeating the Futsalroos 8-0 on the way to claiming the trophy.
By now The Futsalroos were becoming regular participants at the AFC event and, as a consequence of their exposure to the highest level of Futsal in the region, the quality began to improve and results followed. In 2008 in Thailand they again qualified from the group having defeated Turkmenistan (3-1) and Chinese Taipei (6-0). Australia even led Japan 2-0 before falling to a 2-4 loss. That meant a quarter final match-up with the host nation who, roared on by a vociferous and parochial support, edged the Futsalroos 5-2. The loss ultimately meant that the team missed out on FIFA World Cup qualification.
A change in the way the tournament was run meant that it switched to being held every two years and thus Australia had to wait to qualify for the 2010 edition back in Uzbekistan, the first under new Coach Steven Knight. After cruising through the qualification rounds Australia was pooled with Kuwait, Iran and Tajikistan. An opening 4-2 win over the Kuwaitis set them on the right path and, even though Iran proved too strong again (winning the clash 9-3) it left the Futsalroos the task of defeating Tajikistan to qualify. A late winner from Tom Rogic, later to star for Central Coast Mariners in the Hyundai A-League, proved decisive in a nine-goal thriller. Unfortunately, the host nation, Uzbekistan proved too hot to handle in the last eight claiming a 5-3 win.
There was to be better news in the 2012 edition though as the Futsalroos put in their best ever showing at the major AFC event. Doubling, once again, as a FIFA World Cup qualifying event, the Futsalroos knew a semi-final spot was required to gain entry into the premiere Futsal event on the calendar. The tournament, held in the UAE, started brightly with successive victories over Qatar (3-1) and South Korea (6-0) before a 0-9 loss to ten times champion Iran. Enough points had been accumulated for a quarter final spot and the dream was realised as Kuwait were beaten 3-2 in extra-time thanks to a dramatic winner from Daniel Fogarty. The semi-finals pitted Australia against Japan and a 0-3 reverse ended any hopes of a fairy-tale triumph. The Futsalroos eventually finished fourth, losing the third place play-off match 0-4 to nemesis Iran.
AFC Asian Championships - Overall Record 5 appearances - 21 matches - 10 wins - 1 draw - 10 losses 2006 - Uzbekistan - 2nd in group 2007 - Japan - Quarter Finals 2008 - Thailand - Quarter Finals 2010 - Uzbekistan- Quarter Finals 2012 - UAE - Semi-Finals (lost third place play-off)