Having been paired with Sporting Clube de Portugal in the UEFA Futsal Cup semi-finals, Kairat Almaty coach João Carlos Barbosa said "we all want to make Kazakhstan happy" after watching his team defeat Brazilian giants Santos FC 3-1.
The draw for the semi-finals, which will be at Kairat's Baluan Sholak Sport Palace on 29 April with the tournament concluding two days later, was held at half-time in the club's glamorous friendly on Wednesday. With Kairat comfortably dominating their national league, Barbosa is keen to prepare for the European finals against strong opposition, and a Santos team boasting Brazil stars including Falcão certain justified the match billing of "super" on the posters.
Santos beat Kairat 5-3 in a behind-closed-doors game on Tuesday despite the home team having led 2-0 but it was a different story when the fans were let in. Kairat, who have also recently played Russian club Sibiryak Novosibirsk and the Kazakhstan national team, took the lead through Kelson and Leo doubled it. Neto pulled one back late in the first half but Serik Zhamankulov restored the two-goal cushion and Santos could not cut the deficit again despite deploying a flying keeper.
That was a boost for Barbosa, whose team will aim to win a European semi-final at the fourth attempt against Sporting. "I've heard that some people wanted us to avoid Sporting in the semi-finals," he told UEFA.com. "But do you think Montesilvano are any weaker? I do not see any difference. It would be a huge disappointment to lose in the semi-finals while wining would bring huge happiness."
This is the first UEFA final tournament to be held in Kazakhstan and Barbosa is well aware of what is at stake. "My players understand all too well that playing in the finals is a great achievement," he said. "We all want to make Kazakhstan happy. Personally, winning this tournament is one of my life's ambitions, but I do not think that I am alone in this – dozens of Europe's best coaches have the same dream."
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