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Czechia, Croatia, Serbia, Finland: Past achievements on Futsal World Cup

FIFA Futsal World Cup in Lithuania is looming ever closer and UEFA’s last round of qualifier matches for this grand competition will be played next week. We are still looking for two teams from Europe to take their place in the World Cup. Next week’s match-ups are Serbia – Finland (Friday), and Croatia – Czechia (Saturday).

In the coming days, we will dedicate some space to these two match-ups. Today, we will take a look at the past achievements of each of these teams on the World Cup, the competition they’re trying to get to now.

Czech Republic Futsal Team

First off is Czech Republic. Of these four teams, Czechia is the most successful in regard of how many times they qualified for the World Cup – three. Their first appearance came in 2004 on Futsal World Cup in Chinese Taipei. Czechs qualified there after beating Bosnia and Herzegovina 11-9 on aggregate in the last round of qualifying.

Czechs were drawn into Group B in the 2004 World Cup together with one of the favorites Brazil who field names such as Falcao, Simi and Franklin. Furthermore, they were drawn with always tough Thailand with Anucha Munjarern and Australia. It was obvious that they had to ‘fight’ for the second spot with Thailand as their match-up in the first group leg was of outmost importance and Czechs won 2-1 in a tense match!

In the second leg, Czechia took down Australia with an easy 5-0 victory, but couldn’t hold Brazil in the match for first place in the group, which Brazil won 4-1. But they weren’t too dissatisfied as they passed the group in their first World Cup appearance ever. In the second phase, Czechs were drawn into group with Europe’s elite: Italy, Spain and Portugal. They lost all three of their match-ups and ended their first World Cup campaign with a very decent result in top 8.

Second time Czech Republic qualified for Futsal World Cup was just four years later, 2008 in Brazil. They got there through playoff drama with Romania. First match in Pardubice ended 1-1, but the return leg in Romania ended 2-2, and Czechia qualified on away goals aggregate. Unlike the former World Cup, this one included 20 teams drawn into four groups of five teams. Czechs were drawn into Group D with eventual finalists Spain, equally strong Iran and two outsiders Libya and Uruguay.

The 2008 World Cup campaign went about as expected. They won against Libya and Uruguay without much drama, lost against Spain and were hoping for a good result in their last match against Iran which decided which team goes on to the second round. They fell to Iran in a 3-2 loss, but certainly were not without their chances.

Third and last time Czechs qualified for the Futsal World Cup was another one in succession – 2012 Futsal World Cup in Thailand. They got there by narrowly beating Slovenia 4-3 on aggregate in the qualification playoffs. They lost their first match in Slovenia 2-0, but managed to bounce back with a big 4-1 win at home. The 2012 Thailand World Cup saw 24 teams, divided into six groups of four, with four best third-placed teams getting through to the next round.

Czechs were drawn into Group E with Serbia, Egypt and Kuwait, which they got through as second placed team. They beat Kuwait more comfortably than the results suggests (3-2), lost heavily against motivated Egypt (7-2), and drawn against Serbia (2-2). Understandably, there is no easy draw in the Round of 16 and Czechs couldn’t threaten Russia (3-0), thus ending their last World Cup campaign (so far!).

Czechs missed out on the last World Cup in Colombia, but if anything, they certainly showed the world they are not pushovers, but a respectable futsal team.

Croatia Futsal Team

Czechs rival in their match-up is a fired-up Croatian team, who will search for their only second appearance at the World Cup.

Their first and only World Cup appearance came in now distant 2000 in Guatemala, on which they qualified as one of five European teams. They were drawn into Group C with favorites Russia, Costa Rica and Australia.

In their first match on the World Cup ever, Croatia lost against Russia, but showed a very skillful set of players (4-2). Later on, they had no problem overcoming Australia (6-0) and Costa Rica (4-1), thus deservingly taking that second place that got them into the second round.

In the second round, Croatia got drawn with Spain, Portugal and Netherlands. Croatia’s hunt for semi-final did not start well as they got trashed 5-0 by a determined Spanish side. Nevertheless, Croatia bounced back with a big 5-2 win against Netherlands and faced off with Portugal for the semi-finals. They were unable to, however, as Portugal pushed them out of the competition with a 3-1 win.

Croatia thus ended their first ever and so far the only World Cup campaign with a respectable fifth place in the overall tournament ranking. They had a very talented side in 2000, but we will have to wait and see if this at-least-equally-talented side can raise above the Czech team and take Croatia on their second Futsal World Cup.

Serbia Futsal Team

Similar like Croatia, Serbian futsal team also participated on only one Futsal World Cup, with a side note that they did qualify for 1992 Hong Kong Futsal World Cup, but got ejected due to non-sporting reasons and international sanctions. Nevertheless, the 2012 Futsal World Cup in Thailand on which they did partake will remain in their good memory.

They got there by winning their group in the qualification round and then beating Hungary 6-2 on aggregate in the playoffs. As mentioned earlier, they were drawn in a group E with Czech Republic, Egypt and Kuwait. Unlike Czechs, Serbs won both their matches against Egypt (3-1) and Kuwait (7-2) and could wait the last match against Czech with ease (2-2 draw), and take the first place in the group.

In the Round of 16, Serbia was placed in a match-up against Argentina. Unfortunately for Serbia, it was Argentina who took the lead in the first half and went to half-time with a 2-0 lead. From then on, the hunt was open, but Serbia managed only to ease the defeat with a goal in 37th minute. Just how strong a side they really had is maybe best explained with the fact that that Argentinian team lost in the quarterfinals against the eventual champions Brazil only after extra-time!

Serbia’s only World Cup appearance was truly a good one, making pass the group stage undefeated. They will definitely be expecting to make another appearance at Lithuania, but first they have to win against determined Finland.

Finland Futsal Team

Unlike the other teams in the final playoff round for the Futsal World Cup in Lithuania, the Finns don’t have any appearances at the World Cup and they are in hunt for their first one ever. If they do manage, it will be their first ever major tournament appearance altogether, as they never qualified to UEFA Euro as well.

Despite their inexperience at the big stage, Serbia should not underestimate motivated Finns. They are led by one of the most experienced coaches in futsal Mićo Martić and they have a number of international players playing on their team – but more about that in later articles.

Their qualification form to the World Cup is also on an ascending path forward as this is their first time in the last qualifying round – they have never been this close!

In the 2008 Futsal World Cup Qualifications they ended their campaign in the first (preliminary) group round, losing from Czech Republic and Azerbaijan, but managing to grab a win against Armenia. A very similar result happened four years later, when they were stopped in a preliminary group against Turkey, Albania and Estonia. Finns managed though to beat Estonia and draw against Albanians, thus improving on their last campaign.

In their last Futsal World Cup qualifying campaign, they finally made it out of the preliminary group round. They won their group with Bulgaria and Switzerland, thus getting through to the main round of qualifying. They were drawn in a group with Russia, this year's rivals Serbia and Turkey. Expectedly, they lost their match-up against Russia (3-0), unexpectedly(?) trashed Turkey (8-2) and played against Serbia for the playoffs. They were however stopped (2-1), but they were certainly not without their chances.

Being able to reach the final stage of the qualifying this year, Finland is on the upward trajectory and Serbs should not underestimate this very determined Finnish side who are looking for their first-ever major tournament appearance.


So, buckle up futsal fans, we are in for a very interesting week of futsal as we wait for the last two European teams to take their place in the 2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Lithuania! As mentioned earlier, Serbia and Finland will take the court first on Friday and the second leg match will be on 10th November. Croatia will play the Czech Republic on Saturday, while the second leg is on schedule also on 10th November (Tuesday). 

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